SACRAMENTO, Calif. ““ St. Francis senior Catie Brown still has work to do on the soccer field for the Troubadours this spring but she will solidify her college plans next month. She will sign a National Letter of Intent to play soccer and attend Southern Methodist University on Feb. 4.
Brown, who will play her third season for the St. Francis soccer team, committed to SMU last July. The early decision has allowed her to complete the last two years of her career without the stress of a college decision.
“It was a huge weight off my shoulders both academically and athletically,” said Brown. “I was really focused on showing well and getting ready for tournaments. After committing, I was able to start getting ready for college.”
Brown has continued to work on her craft in preparation for playing at the Division I program this fall. She plays for the locally based elite San Juan Soccer Club and works with independent goalkeeper coaches in addition to her time with the high school team.
“They want the goalkeeper I am in two, three years,” said Brown her arrival on the Dallas campus. “Not where I was when I committed. They saw the potential. I have been doing a lot more fitness and goalkeeping technical work (in preparation).”
Brown credits her club for helping her get seen by college coaches. During her three seasons with the club, she has played in tournaments in Seattle, San Diego, Boise, Dallas and Phoenix as well as Northern California.
“It is amazing,” said Brown. “If you want to play in college, it is where you want to be. They have the ability to get you seen across the country.”
Brown originally had no plans of attending a school in Texas. But fate intervened and opened her eyes to the possibility.
“I was not really interested in going anywhere in Texas but I went there on an ECNL trip,” said Brown of a tournament with her club. “We toured SMU and I knew my sister had gotten in there. The moment I stepped on campus it blew my mind.”
She was impressed with the academic reputation discussed on her initial visit. But after making an official visit and attending their ID camp, Brown was sold on the soccer program.
“They have an incredible training staff and support staff,” said Brown of the athletics team. “They have a unique setup with their soccer program with a mental fitness coach. She makes sure everybody is doing what they need to do to stay mentally and physically healthy. It was great to see and I had not seen that at other schools. After going on my visit, I could not see myself at any other school.”
Brown, who also considered USC and Georgetown, will play for Chris Petrucelli, who recently completed his third season as the Mustang’s head women’s soccer coach. He is a two-time National Coach of the Year and coached the 1995 NCAA Championship team at Notre Dame that included St. Francis Head Coach Rosella Kelly.
Brown allowed only eight goals on the season in over 800 minutes as a junior, while making 84 saves and combining on nine shutouts. She led the league in goals against average and saves.
“She is phenomenal,” said St. Francis classmate and club teammate Madison Kimball. “Whenever someone is attacking the goal, I never get nervous with her back there. I know she is going to do everything she can back there to save it.”
She helped lead St. Francis to the Sac-Joaquin Section Championship last season as the Troubadours posted a 23-5-3 record on the season, earning All-Delta River League and River Cats All-City honors.
“The section championship last year was incredible,” said Brown. “Losing in the semifinals was a heartbreaker for me in 2013. I thought we were doing so well in our first season with Rosella (Kelly). The ball was rolling. We came back with the vengeance to take it. It meant a lot to me to play in it.”
Brown will be part of a talented senior class that brings back a strong contingent from the section championship team. They will play under former UC Davis Head Coach and St. Francis alumna Maryclaire Robinson, who will serve as the interim coach for Kelly, who is taking the season off after having a baby.
“I am really excited about this year,” said Brown. “We had a really talented varsity last year made up of a majority of juniors. We have a lot of returning players as well as the incredible players coming up from JV, who had a great season. I want to go back and win the section title again. I love the competitiveness of our team and the teams we play.”
St. Francis will play in the recently realigned Delta League with soccer rivals Davis and Franklin. The Troubadours finished second in the Delta River League to Oak Ridge last season.
“Having them in our league is going to make it a lot harder this year,” said Brown. “I think this team is up for the challenge.”
While her club team has been important for her career, Brown loves playing for her school.
“It means a lot to me because I have played all three years and made those bonds with my Troubie sisters,” said Brown. “It helps you meet a lot of girls in other grades and make friends with people with similar interests. It is an honor to wear the St. Francis jersey and getting my three varsity letters is a big deal for me.”
Brown will sign her National Letter of Intent on Wednesday, Feb. 4 and is one of six Troubadours expected to sign with college soccer programs. St. Francis will host a celebration at the school Wednesday morning at 9 a.m.