Kailee Sharp thrives with new-found confidence in her first season as starter

Sharp has a 2-1-2 record as Minnesota's goalkeeper.

Erik Nelson

Goalkeeper Kailee Sharp’s first start of her career was against Washington State on Aug. 18 in Pullman, Washington. With the band and opposing fans at her back, Sharp couldn’t communicate with her teammates for much of the game, but the junior still managed to record a shutout.

That’s when head coach Stefanie Golan knew she had a confident player in goal.

“That’s one of the toughest places to play in the country,” Golan said. “For her to make a couple of good saves in a big game like that. …We’re going to be fine.”

Sharp has played in five of Minnesota’s eight games and has recorded three shutouts. She has a record of 2-1-2.

Golan said Sharp’s confidence increases once she touches the ball for the first time.

“She has to get one good touch, and [Sharp] is on fire for the rest of the time,” Golan said. “Now that she has [played] multiple games, she doesn’t have to wait for the first touch. She goes in with that confidence, which is great.”

Sharp did not play during Minnesota’s 2015 and 2016 seasons. Instead, she observed former Minnesota goalkeeper Tarah Hobbs. Sharp said Hobbs was a significant role model for her.

“I learned a lot of different things from her just by asking questions and watching what she did,” Sharp said. “It was good to get some time working on getting to be the best I could be so that I felt like I had a better foundation going into this year.”

Defender Nikki Albrecht said Sharp’s technical abilities are so strong that Albrecht could trust her as a regular field player.

“One of things that makes her such an amazing goalie is not only [can] she make fantastic saves, but she can distribute with her feet,” Albrecht said. “That’s one of the most important parts of a tactical and technical goalie. You want them to be part of your back line and part of the rest of the team.”

Before each game, Sharp listens to energetic music and concentrates on her breathing to make sure she is focused and prepared. Sharp’s faith has played an important role for her both before and during games.

“I give everything to God, and when things go wrong,” Sharp said, “I just think that I get my strength from him.”

Off the field, Sharp enjoys going out to dinner with her family and watching movies. She is a native of Centennial, Colorado, and is a fan of the Denver Broncos and the Minnesota Twins. She plans to major in psychology.

After the game, if Minnesota wins, Albrecht and the back line congratulate her and tell her how far she has come as a player.

“When we win, we reinforce how proud we are of her,” Albrecht said. “It’s really good to know that we have an amazing, solid keeper.”