Even though Grace Hamm was in her natural element again as the goalkeeper for the Longmont High girls soccer team in 2015, there was something very unnatural about it.
You just don’t see goalies wearing ACL supporting braces very often, and admittedly Hamm said it was a clunky gadget that caused some bruises on her legs every now and then.
But it never slowed her abilities between the pipes in Longmont’s attempt at winning a Northern League title this year, and for her efforts as an outgoing senior Hamm has been named the 2015 Times-Call girls soccer Player of the Year.
Hamm missed her entire junior soccer season because of an ACL tear during indoor soccer play in at the end of 2013, and she finally was able to get her competitive juices flowing with the Trojans during a long playoff run for the girls basketball team this past season.
Finally stepping in to guard the goal for LHS on March 14 against Mesa Ridge, a game in which she made nine saves for a shutout, was a precious moment for Hamm. It took awhile to adapt to playing with the brace, though.
“It was pretty weird playing with that prevention brace, and I’ve really never seen a goalie having to play with one,” Hamm said. “I felt like I had lost a little bit of reaction time at first, but after a couple weeks I really felt the same as before and I was happy to be back.”
Hamm kept the young Trojans in games all year, especially in league play where she only allowed three goals in seven contests. Longmont won quite a few games by a single goal, including a 1-0 victory against eventual 4A semifinalist Ponderosa that could be argued was Longmont’s finest win of the season.
In that game against the Mustangs, Hamm was credited with 18 saves in response to a sour loss against Silver Creek (1-0 in overtime) that ultimately decided the league title.
In all, Hamm had over 120 saves, corralling 14 stops against Thompson Valley (a 2-0 win that was another one of her favorites for the season). She helped secure a key scoreless tie against rival Niwot, and finished the season with 12 more saves in Longmont’s playoff setback against Pueblo Centennial.
After the season, she was named the Northern player of the year, as well.
“We were really close to the league title, and that was fun to be a part of because Longmont soccer hasn’t been close in a long time,” Hamm said. “I remember being so happy about (beating Ponderosa). Goalies just don’t get (player of the year), so I was so ecstatic to have gotten that honor.”
“Grace just has tons and tons of confidence out there, and I really needed someone out there like that this year,” said head coach Mike DiGiallonardo. “I don’t think there’s an area of the field where you could put her that she would not succeed. She just made outstanding save after outstanding save, some it seemed coming clear across the goal.”
Her best moments came as a keeper, but Hamm was also provided the opportunity to play the field every so often when the Trojans needed some speed. Again, the leg brace did not hinder her love of running, and she got a chance to score a goal this year for the second time in her career against Greeley Central.
Hamm will attempt to walk-on to St. Louis University’s soccer team, which does compete at the Division I level, in the fall.
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