Q & A with Penn State Goalie Conrad Taylor
Conrad Taylor, the true freshman goalkeeper for the No. 13 Penn State Nittany Lions, has earned the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors for both of the first two weeks of the season. Penn State is unbeaten in four games this season, but oddly, only has one win. The Lions other three matches, all against teams ranked in the top six in the country, have resulted in ties, including last Sunday's scoreless draw with No. 2 St. John's. Conrad has stopped 78% of the shots he has faced so far this season and leads the Nittany Lions into their first home game of the season Friday night, September 17, against Virginia Tech.
When did you first begin playing soccer?
I don't know I think my parents were the ones who got me into it when I was five. I played park and rec. at first and then I got into club soccer.
Have you always been a goalie?
I was always the person who would go in goal when nobody else wanted to play. But after a while I got pretty good at it and started to play about half on the field and half in goal. When I started middle school, I started playing goalie full time.
You are 5'8", which is on the smaller side for goal keepers in college soccer. Do you think that your height has hurt you or have you found that you can use it to your advantage?
I don't really think that being short has ever hurt me as a goalkeeper. A lot of people see it as a disadvantage to be short and a goalkeeper but there are a lot of things you lose with height. Tall goalkeepers aren't as quick as shorter ones. It's kind of give and take, you lose some things with height and you don't have some things being short. If you're agile enough and athletic enough it doesn't matter how tall or short you are.
What are the traits, physically and mentally, that a successful goalie needs to have?
A successful goalkeeper obviously needs to have good reactions and must be brave. I think it's important also to be able to concentrate for an entire game. You might not touch the ball for 89 minutes then have to make a save in the 90th minute that will change the whole game.
Who has had the biggest influence on your soccer career?
There have been so many big influences on my soccer career it's impossible to name the biggest. You can learn something from every coach you have, even the ones you don't like. The really important coaches are the ones you have early in your life. They really mold you into the player you will when you are older.
While you might have the stranger looking record in the country at 1-0-3, you have yet to lose a game. Are those ties frustrating, because they aren't wins, or are they encouraging because they aren't loses?
I think that the ties can be seen in both ways. I think that in all of the games we have played this season we have had the opportunity to win, and maybe we should have won. Some games we should have scored more goals, but there are games in which we shouldn't have given up goals too. It's definitely good that we haven't lost the games that we tied but on the other hand, we could have won them all too.
So far this season, you have been in net for ties against three top ten teams, including last Sunday's scoreless match with No. 2
I think that playing at the levels I have played at have pretty well prepared me for college, but nothing is better preparation than the real thing. I think what will help me the most to adjust is playing as many games as possible at this level.
Penn State has a rich soccer history, but it has been almost fifty seasons since its last National Championship. Is that a conscious goal for the team or is the emphasis more on winning day-to-day?
Everybody in the country has a goal to win a National Championship, and for us that goal is always there. You can't go into every game thinking that you're going to win a National Championship; you have to take it a game at a time.
Throughout your youth and high school soccer career in
I don't think that geography has much importance at this level.
Has soccer made the transition to being so far away from home easier or harder?
It has definitely made the transition easier because before school even started I already had a family here.
Outside of soccer, what has been the biggest adjustment to being a freshman in college?
I have had a lot of free time. There are study hall hours that we have to do but so far I haven't had enough work to do to fill up the hours.