St. Vincent junior Anne Steele has been waking up at 4 a.m. each day since the fall to work on both her goalkeeper skills and her strength.
The extra work showed Monday night in the Indians' first game of the season.
Steele recorded a shutout, making six saves, and St. Vincent senior Brooke Brown netted a goal in the 34th minute to help the Indians to a 1-0 road win over Central in girls soccer action.
It was the first contest of the season for both squads.
Steele, playing in her first varsity game after spending the past two seasons on the junior varsity, said Indians coach Dustin Wengert told her last Friday that she had earned the starting job. The news created feelings of excitement and nervousness -- two emotions she admitted she again felt before Monday's game.
Steele had some strong saves, especially in the second half, including one where she dived to her left to foil one of the Tigers' late-game chances.
"I didn't know what to expect," Steele said. "They [Central] are a really good team, and I'm just really happy.
"I'm relieved. I have a really good defense back there, and I was really nervous and they kind of helped me."
Wengert said Steele, who also plays softball and basketball, is the hardest-working member on the team. He plans to use her as his main keeper this season.
When Steele wakes up at 4 a.m., she does a variety of exercises, including drills with a medicine ball to improve her wrist strength, sit-ups, push-ups and more.
"She played two great years of JV for us, and she got the call today," Wengert said. "It's her first win on varsity, so you've got to tip your hat to her. Work ethic, there's not another girl on this team that works harder than Anne. She got done with basketball, and I gave the basketball girls two days off, and she's there the next day. She didn't want to take any days off. It was really her job to lose, and we feel like in practice she hasn't given us any reason not to trust her in game situations."
Tigers senior Laura Lusk was impressed with the way Steele played.
"She went to the ball every time and never stopped," Lusk said of Steele. "And so it saved them a lot. It was a combination [of the defense and the goalie]. The goalie did have some great saves."
Brown's goal came about 6 minutes before the break. Jessica Welker earned the assist. It was scored against Central keeper Meg Goodman.
"I just beat my defender down field, and Jessica had it outside the box and I just yelled at her to lay it back to me," Brown said. "She laid a perfect ball back, and I just shot it and it went in."
Brown said it is nice to earn a victory on the first day of the spring sports season because it gives her team some confidence to take into upcoming games. She added her team's communication was strong and that Steele had a nice performance to help the Indians post the shutout.
"She made some key saves in the game," Brown said of Steele. "She's always giving it 110 percent, no matter if the ball is all the way down on the other team's end of the field or if it's right by her. She's always yelling at us and telling us what to do."
Lusk said her team needs to communicate better and be more aggressive.
"A little bit better communication would definitely help us, and just working together better," Lusk said. "It was our first game, so we didn't expect to come out there and be perfect. But obviously we can definitely improve. ... We need to work on our shots a little bit more."
Central coach Tom Doyle added: "We beat them sometimes at the end, but we didn't finish and put the ball in the back of the net. So to me, I thought we played a much better second half, especially the first 8, 10, 12 minutes. I thought we did a real good job of knocking the ball around, possessing the ball, and making passes and making runs. But we just didn't put the ball in the back of the net."