LOUDONVILLE — When the Siena women’s soccer team stepped onto the Hickey Field turf March 25 against Iona, junior goalkeeper Leslie Adams had yet to play one second of collegiate soccer.
Fast-forward just over a month, and Adams is the 2020-21 MAAC Goalkeeper of the Year, plus a major reason why the team departed campus Monday for Greenville, North Carolina to face Arizona State on Wednesday in the first round of the NCAA women’s soccer tournament.
“It’s been crazy,” Adams said Monday. “I just can’t believe how much I’ve been able to contribute to this team.”
Adams spent her first two years at Siena waiting behind four-year starter and 2018 MAAC Goalkeeper of the Year Taylor Dorado.
No longer an understudy, Adams has thrived this spring since being thrust into the spotlight.
“It was her time, and she was ready to go,” Siena coach Steve Karbowski said. “Very confident from Day 1, which is what I liked about her. . . . She stepped right in and showed a lot of confidence managing the game, playing with her feet, communicating with the defense.”
“She’s absolutely stood up to the challenge,” senior forward Carrie Krohn said. “I’m really excited for her. She’s really proved herself, especially in this really short season.”
A Collegeville, Pennsylvania native, Adams has started six of Siena’s eight games during this condensed season, leading the Saints to a 4-0-2 mark in her appearances — Siena also won the two games started by redshirt freshman Brooke Boermeester — while allowing just three goals.
Adams’ .930 save percentage (40 saves on 43 shots) ranks fifth nationally, and a Siena defense that also features MAAC Co-Defensive Player of the Year Briana Montinard is eighth in the country with a .355 goals against average.
“Leslie’s been great. She’s playing with a ton of confidence,” Karbowski said. “We’re playing well as a team defensively. That makes the game close, tight, and we have a chance.”
For Adams and the rest of her teammates, the journey to this spring season’s sensational run has been a long and winding one.
Siena went 512 days without playing from the end of its 2019 season until finally getting on the field March 25 against Iona, and Adams said she used as much of that extended break as she possibly could to prepare herself for the starting job.
“I was training constantly,” she said. “Always getting in shape and working on myself, my hands. I think that time off really helped me sharpen my skills.”
The 5-foot-7 goalkeeper has three shutouts in six appearances, and is coming off her best performance of the season in the MAAC championship game against Monmouth. In that April 16 conference final, Adams made a career-high 12 saves — one more than she made 13 days earlier in Siena’s first meeting with Monmouth — to preserve a 0-0 draw through regulation and overtime, then made stops in each of the first two rounds of penalty kicks while her teammates converted as Siena advanced 4-2 to earn its first conference championship and NCAA tournament berth since 2015.
That performance against Monmouth has buoyed Adams’ confidence in preparation for Wednesday’s first-round match with Arizona State, especially with the knowledge that she’s likely to face a similar barrage of shots from the Saints’ Pac-12 opponent.
“I’m going to be busier and busier as the games go on from here, that’s for sure,” Adams said. “I think my defense in front of me is going to handle it well.
“I’m just going to be ready to be busy.”