Concussions force All-American keeper Oliver to retire

[STANFORD: Women] Stanford senior goalkeeper Emily Oliver, a Soccer America Preseason All-American, has retired from soccer because of a series of concussions, the latest of which was suffered against Portland on Aug. 31. The 2011 All-America and College Cup Defensive MVP, who never lost a regular-season match, retires with the third-lowest goals-against average (0.36) on the all-time NCAA Division I list.

Oliver has had a series of concussions, including the latest against Portland on Aug. 31, which has forced her to step away from the game.

The Flossmoor, Ill., native completes her career with the school-record goals-against average, breaking the Stanford standard of 0.45 held since 2004 by U.S. national team veteran Nicole Barnhart.

“I’ve had a lot of concussions,” Oliver said. “So my risk is very high now. Going through this process of deciding this direction, I can’t even put into words how helpful it has been to be with the team and all these girls that make it bearable. Honestly, it’s a tribute to them that they can help me through this. I can’t even put words to it. They’ve really held me up and kept me going.”

A concussion suffered in the spring of 2012 caused Oliver to miss the first seven matches of the 2012 season. But she recovered to post a 0.54 GAA and earn her second consecutive All-Pac-12 first-team honor.

“Emily’s personality encapsulates everything we do here at Stanford,” said goalkeepers coach Jay Cooney. “She’s competitive, she works hard, she never says die. She puts everything into everything that she does. To have her career cut short … it’s sad. It’s a sad moment for the whole program. But we’re really trying to celebrate what she did in the three-plus years she was able to play, and it’s been remarkable. She set the benchmark for everyone on her team and the players to follow.”

This season, Oliver started the first three matches and earned one shutout while posting a 0.70 GAA before a collision at the edge of the penalty area in the 51st minute of a 1-1 draw against Portland caused her to leave the field for the final time.

“I’m very sad that Emily is having to retire at a young age,” Stanford head coach Paul Ratcliffe said. “But she has accomplished so much at Stanford. She helped us win our national championship. She’s been a great leader for the program, and I think she’ll continue to be a great leader until she graduates. She’s an unbelievable competitor, has amazing character and has been the foundation for the program for the last four years. Emily will go down in the record books as one of the greatest goalkeepers ever to play at Stanford, and we have a tradition of having incredible goalkeepers.”

Other goalkeepers at Stanford include freshman starter Jane Campbell, one of the most heralded goalies to come out of the U.S. girls national team program in recent years.
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