Goal scoring has come easy for Maddie Fleet. Until the goals she has set for her team are reached, though, she won’t be satisfied.
Fleet, a junior forward on the Franklin College women’s soccer team, found the net 49 times in her first two seasons. She totaled 25 goals and 17 assists for the Grizzlies as a sophomore, making her the top scorer among all NCAA Division III players. The Perry Meridian graduate was a third-team All-American.
None of those individual accolades mattered to Fleet, though, after the Grizzlies finished their 2016 season with a 1-0 loss to Hanover in the HCAC tournament championship. A win would have assured Franklin of a spot in the NCAA Division III tournament.
“When I came to Franklin, I wanted to come be a part of the change in our program,” Fleet said. “So losing that game definitely … it stung, but it also built motivation for this year, too.”
Understandably, Fleet has been drawing more attention from opposing defenses as her career has progressed. That, coupled with a beefed-up nonconference schedule, has made life a little more difficult for the 5-foot-4 standout — who is also working on a double major in accounting and finance.
Still, she’s had a hand (or foot) in each of Franklin’s goals thus far. Through the first four matches, she’s picked up two goals and an assist.
Adding to the challenges this fall was the fact that the Grizzlies had a coaching change in the offseason. Following the surprising departure of Justin Sullivan, now an assistant at Marian University, Franklin brought in former DePauw assistant Cristin Allen to take over the program.
Fleet acknowledges that the team was surprised when Sullivan left, but “once we all got back to campus this summer and met coach Allen, it totally changed. It was like, ‘We’re going to be okay.’”
Regardless of who’s in charge, Fleet’s mission remains unchanged. She’s far less concerned with individual numbers, noting that she still has no clue how many she scored last year, and far more concerned with how her play impacts her team’s bottom line.
“I wasn’t keeping track of it, really,” she said of her nation-leading totals in 2016. “It was something that just happened because I want for the team to do good and that was my role as an attacking player.”
She’ll continue to fill that role as best she can, and the goals will likely continue to be something that just happen. All the while, she’ll be more focused on leading the team to a conference title and national prominence than she will be on how many goals she piles up.
One might help Fleet take care of the other.
Maddie Fleet has been one of the nation’s most prolific scorers during her career at Franklin College. A look at her totals year by year (2017 totals through four games):
* – led NCAA Division III