Nicole Jansen attempted a shot on goal once every 696 minutes she was on the field during the 2014 soccer season.
Such numbers usually earn a player a spot on the bench, but not Jansen, a starting defender who has proved to be indispensable for Class 2A No. 11 Center Grove.
The senior is a second-year team captain — sharing the role this season with senior midfielder Brynnan Monfort — and among those responsible for keeping opposing shots from reaching Center Grove goalkeeper Ella Thompson.
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A varsity player since her freshman season, Jansen contributes with her voice, athleticism and ingrained understanding of where to be at all times.
“Leadership is the biggest thing. Nicole is a vocal player on the field who knows her role very well and can help the other girls to improve our team tactics on defense,” third-year Trojans coach Mike Bishop said.
“Defensively she reads the game very well. As well, she has good footwork. You don’t see her getting turned around too often. She’ll go to attack; and if the player goes to run, she either turns to run and doesn’t stab at the ball and open herself up to getting beat that way. It’s very rare that that happens.”
Jansen started playing soccer at age 5, though initially it wasn’t the sport she figured she would carry all the way into her final year of high school.
“It wasn’t my favorite sport at first. I really liked basketball when I was younger. I was a shooting guard, but it doesn’t do much when you’re only 5-foot-3,” Jansen said with a laugh.
“I still play in my free time with my friends, so I wouldn’t say that I miss it. I miss playing in games.”
In 21 soccer matches last season, Jansen logged a team-best total of 1,391 minutes of playing time. In all eight Center Grove players achieved no less than 1,000 minutes of game action, with Jansen being the only one returning.
The Trojans sported a 1-0-1 record this season entering Monday’s match at Lawrence Central.
Not surprisingly, Jansen in those first two matches already had accumulated 132 minutes of playing time, second only to junior midfielder Molly Williams with 134.
Like most soccer players, Jansen at a young age figured the ability — or inability — to produce goals was the lone method of gauging one’s success.
Now she’s making a name for herself keeping the ball out of the net.
“I would say when I was little I definitely scored goals. But I’ve played all over the place. I spent a good three to four years playing midfield and these past few years have played mainly defense. I just like to protect my goalie,” Jansen said.
“I think for me, especially playing outside back and being on the side of the field, the best part is running up and down the field. I like to think I play quite a bit of offense, too. I get some assists off my crosses, which is nice.”
Jansen tallied three assists as a junior, one each in shutout victories against Lawrence Central, Ben Davis and Martinsville.
She had yet to produce an assist or shot on goal in Center Grove’s first two matches this season.
But it’s zeroes Jansen is after.
“I definitely feel that with a shutout you can count that as a good game. Other than that it’s really how hard you go into your tackles and how well you work together,” she said.
Bishop said he thinks a different sort of mindset is required for excelling as a soccer defender.
“Players have certain skill sets or they don’t. Players who are aggressive like to score, have really good footwork naturally make great forwards. They would not make a good defender because they would be out of position trying to score goals,” Bishop said.
“A defender might not go after the glory and might not have all the great tricks with the ball at their feet. But they have that tenacity to not let anything get behind them and get through them.”
THE JANSEN FILE
Name: Nicole Jansen
Family: Parents, Pat and Cheryl; brother, Rob, 20; sisters, Emily, 16, and Katelyn, 13
Favorite TV show: “Game of Thrones”
Favorite movie: “She’s the Man”
Favorite athlete: Julie Johnston
Favorite team: Real Madrid