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For The Love Of The Game

The following feature story appeared in the Army Football Game Day program against North Texas on Sept. 18, 2010, and was written by Mady Salvani.

WEST POINT, N.Y. - The first time Alex Lostetter, a senior co-captain on Army's women's soccer team, stepped onto the pitch as a lively eight-year old, it was the start of a love affair that is just as strong today as it was then. Time has not diminished the joy she gets from playing soccer.

Lostetter played every position before finding her niche as goalkeeper.         

"One day I raised my hand when they asked who wants to be a goalkeeper," laughs Lostetter, "I thought yeah, why not.  It was better than playing on the field because I liked using my hands. I was a little kid not scared of anything and I was very outgoing. I was there to have fun and goalie was perfect for the type of person I am."

Lostetter followed that path through middle school and into high school where she continued to hone her skills at Upper St. Clair. She led her team to a sectional title along with helping her club team (Century United) to the PAA State Cup title. In addition to shining on the pitch, Lostetter lettered in track and basketball, with the latter also being a sport she loved. However, she  was willing to forsake the hardwood when forced to make a tough choice between AAU basketball or club soccer. Soccer won out, opening a door that eventually led to West Point.

When it came time to look at colleges, Army was not on Lostetter's radar. Cincinnati, George Mason and Indiana University were the schools she was interested in.

"I never thought about West Point," smiles Lostetter is making her mark as one of the finest goalkeepers in Army history. She also ranks  along among the leaders in the Patriot League. "I paid little attention when I received a recruiting letter from Army, and a week later my Mom said something to me about it.

"So I figured why not visit and take a look at it. I had already been on my other visits and had verbally committed to George Mason. I was of the mindset that I will go and look at West Point, but I won't go there."

That all changed with her visit as Army went from the bottom of the list to the top.  

"I absolutely loved it and I think what made me like it so much was the team," explained Lostetter.  "They reached out to get to know me the two days I was here. I bonded immediately with them. The other schools I visited did not get to know you. I went home and decided it was where I wanted to go.

"When the coach from George Mason called and asked if I was ready to sign, I said no.  It was hard to do but my parents (James and Rosemary Lostetter) were there to support me. They never influenced me on what to do or not to do which I am very grateful for. I was never forced to play soccer, I did it because I love it, and I can't thank my parents enough because they let me make the decisions I wanted to."

Lostetter has never regretted her decision, and prepared for West Point with a year at the USMA Prep School.

"Attending the Prep School helped me my first year here.  I never struggled and was able to reach out and help my classmates and teammates," explained Lostetter. "The year went by fast with soccer and the travel involved."

Lostetter quickly established herself as an up-and-coming goalkeeper. Her first collegiate start was daunting as it came against the Air Force Academy. The two teams battled to a 0-0 double overtime draw with Lostetter making six saves in the lone tie in the series.

"I was scared and nervous, but the game went well and everything fell into place," she said. "It is hard to describe the feeling afterwards. It was better than anything I experienced in high school and club ball."

Her sophomore year (2008) she played a key role in Army's Cinderella season that took the Black Knights through a wild postseason run in winning the Patriot League Tournament. Army survived a 5-4 penalty kick shootout with Bucknell in the semifinals, then dispatched top-seed and host Navy 1-0 in double overtime en route to earning its first-ever NCAA berth.

"Our captains that year (Sarah Goss and Coco Miller) set the tone for the season and kept the players motivated and wanting to work and get better."  

Last year Lostetter broke the school mark for solo shutouts, now at 23, and this season is four shy of setting another for combined (30) shutouts.  But records and honors are not what Lostetter is about.

"My name is on the record for shutouts, but every player on the team as well as the coaches helped me reach that milestone," said Lostetter. "Every defender prevents shorts or clears out corner kick as well as the forwards defending up top in keeping the ball out of my end."

Army started off 2010 under the radar but the Black Knights (6-1) are making a lot of noise as they are in the midst of a six-game shutout streak that drew the attention of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) with a No. 10 ranking in the Northeast Region.

"This year is building a base on what is going to be a legacy for the soccer program. I have a feeling about this year's team unlike any I felt in my previous three years," said Lostetter. "This is the year it starts. At first I felt we are going to be a young team, but the freshmen came in ready to play, are focused and of the same mindset of the rest of the team."

Lostetter has played a key role along with each of her teammates in Army's success this season as head coach Stefanie Golan has been molding the four classes onto a cohesive unit.

"Alex leads by example and has a strong vocal presence. She wants to win and she helps to bring the best out of everyone," stated Golan whose 6-1 start equals Army's best since 2005. The Black Knights' six-game shutout streak is its best early season showing since 1993 when they opened with nine straight blankings.

In a couple of months, Lostetter's collegiate career will be over. She will enjoy every minute of her time on the pitch, and hopefully it will conclude for her and teammates with a conference title and Army's second NCAA bid in three years.

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