A year after being Washington Township’s second-leading scorer, junior Natalie Rokosz has added goalkeeping duties to her repertoire.
She has split time this season between forward and keeper, and that versatility has paid off for the Senators.
She became the team’s keeper before the season began when she volunteered to take on the role after Erin James graduated.
“(James) trained me for one or two practices, but I was thrown in blind,” Rokosz said. “Being a forward helps me, because I know what to expect from the other team’s forwards.”
She has not had any problem switching between the two positions. She has played about half of her time at forward and the half at keeper.
“The biggest thing is nerves,” she said. “If we’re down, I try to do my best not to let in any other goals and transition to forward where I am trying to put one in the net.”
Senators coach Ron Goodaker said Rokosz heads to the net primarily when his squad is facing the toughest competition or trying to protect the lead. He said he still considers her to be a forward who heads to the net when needed.
“She’s clearly a team player,” he said. “She will do whatever the team needs her to do. You can understand that because of her skill level; she can go wherever she is needed to.”
Rokosz has made 40 saves for the Senators, and she has also tallied a goal and an assist as a forward.
She was second on the team in goals as a sophomore in spite of missing most of the season with an ankle injury. She was injured in an early-season tournament and was unable to return until this season.
“She took proper care of yourself, and you can’t even tell she was hurt,” Goodaker said.
Rokosz said it was challenging at the beginning to come back from the injury, but now she feels things in the injured ankle have improved because of it.
“At the beginning of this year, it was challenging re-teaching the muscles and ligaments what to do and how to work with the ball,” she said. “The rest of muscles and ligaments have gotten stronger, so it was actually a blessing in disguise.”
The team acknowledged Rokosz’s leadership by voting her a captain.
“They all respect her and her experience,” Goodaker said. “They respect her as a leader and all the things she does to help them become better players. On the field there has to be a talking captain, and they respect that about her as well.”
Rokosz said she has enjoyed taking on the leadership role.
“I have played for 11 years, so I know what I am doing, and I like sharing my experiences and helping them learn the game and have fun,” she said.
With sectionals coming up in a few weeks, Rokosz is excited for the rest of this season and beyond.
“I have a really good team,” she said. “I’m excited to see where the team goes this year and for next year as a senior.”