Flowers were shared and tears were shed by members of the Penn State women’s soccer team as goalkeeper Kristin Hartmann closes the books on her playing career and begins a new role with the team.
The redshirt senior was honored on Sunday after the Nittany Lions’ victory over Indiana, her final year with the team cut short due to a torn labrum.
“It was great. It was definitely a lot more than I expected and a lot bigger than I thought it should’ve been,” Hartmann said. “It was so nice of the coaching staff to do that for me and it really made me feel like a part of the team.
Though she will no longer be able to compete, Hartmann will remain with the team in a coaching and motivating role. She will continue to travel with the team and offer her guidance to players on the defensive side of the ball.
Hartmann’s guidance will be useful on a team with a stable of young goalkeepers that includes a junior and two freshmen. Redshirt freshman Britt Eckerstrom has recently been getting starting opportunities in goal.
“She just deserves as much recognition as any other player in this program,” head coach Erica Walsh said. “Everybody has been a part of the team that has glue. If you’ve been on a good team then there’s a piece of it that you can’t replace and that’s Kristin Hartmann for us.”
Hartmann originally injured her shoulder a month-and-a-half ago but continued to practice with the team while fighting through discomfort. The goalkeeper said that she reached a point that she could no longer catch a ball without grimacing in pain.
“Talking with the coaches and my trainer, they just felt like I didn’t need to be going through this much pain,” Hartmann said. “I could take on a different role and not risk any damage later on by switching to a coaching and supportive role.”
Hartmann has served as a role player to the Lions the majority of her career. After redshirting her freshman season, she appeared in a total of eight games over the next three seasons. She only allowed one goal in her career, with four saves. To the coaching staff, Hartmann’s impact has gone beyond her on-field accomplishments.
“Kristin Hartmann defines the group,” assistant coach Tim Wassell said. “It is such an incredible group of young women more than anything, they impress me as individuals. They lead me to believe they are going to be incredibly post graduation, which makes me way more happy than what type of goalkeeper they are.”
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