Anticipating and analytical: Maddie Castro hopes to cement legacy for Minnesota

The senior forward has started in five matches this season.

Forward Maddie Castro moves the ball up field. Gopher women's soccer lost to Wisconsin 3-2 at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie stadium on Saturday, Oct. 13.

Tony Saunders

Forward Maddie Castro moves the ball up field. Gopher women’s soccer lost to Wisconsin 3-2 at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie stadium on Saturday, Oct. 13.

Erik Nelson

In her freshman season, forward Maddie Castro didn’t start in any matches. She didn’t start her sophomore or junior seasons, either.

Finally, on Aug. 17, in Minnesota’s season opener against Utah, Castro started in her first career match. The next match on Aug. 19, Castro scored her second career goal and recorded an assist in the Gophers’ 2-1 victory over Utah State.  

Head coach Stefanie Golan said Castro has learned how to play to her strengths.

“She’s not quite as fast, as athletic, as mobile,” Golan said. “She receives balls. She’s able to connect our midfield into it to help the players around her be dangerous. On the flip side of that, she’s a [player] who can strike a ball.”

Castro has played in all the Gophers’ 16 matches this season. She has started in five of them. 

The Cottage Grove, Minnesota native said the family-oriented soccer culture at Minnesota has made her a better player and person.

“It’s a lot about connecting with people and [creating] relationships,” Castro said. “That plays into my main characteristics. I love being close to people.”

Outside soccer, Castro is working on her capstone project for her psychology major. Her project is on creative flexibility in sports. Castro said creative flexibility is about reading plays in advance and anticipating the future.

“Soccer is exactly like that,” she said. “It’s being creative. It’s being able to see things before they happen and what you can do within that. Psychology plays into that a lot.”

Midfielder Molly Fiedler has been a teammate of Castro’s since before the pair came to Minnesota. Fiedler said they played club soccer together in high school.

“Castro has a great work rate and work ethic,” Fiedler said. “Whenever she comes off the bench, I know that she’s going to give her all. She’s going to raise the level [and] raise the energy. She brings a new dynamic to the game.”

The Gophers are currently sitting in eighth place in the Big Ten. Minnesota needs to finish eighth or higher at the end of the regular season in order to qualify for the Big Ten tournament. If the Gophers want to have home field advantage in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, they must finish fourth or higher in the conference.

Minnesota has qualified for the Big Ten tournament in each of Golan’s six seasons at the helm of the program. Minnesota has two more regular-season matches before the Big Ten tournament begins.

No matter what happens in the next two matches for Minnesota, Golan said she will miss Castro’s presence everywhere.

“She’s somebody who you can have honest conversations with [and] she cares a great deal,” Golan said. “She’s somebody who always sees the bigger picture. She’s able to connect everything that we’re doing within the program to how it’s going to benefit her for the rest of her life. She models that for the younger players.”