Julie Ireland: Scoring goals on and off the field

PHOTO BY ALEX AGUEROS / SPORTS EDITOR
Senior forward Julie Ireland (13) attempts to play a ball near the goal Sunday, Oct. 18., against Northeastern State.

PHOTO BY ALEX AGUEROS / SPORTS EDITOR Senior forward Julie Ireland (13) attempts to play a ball near the goal Sunday, Oct. 18., against Northeastern State.

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By STEVEN SPEARS
News Editor
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — Many great athletes have pregame rituals. Wade Boggs ate chicken, Brian Urlacher indulged himself with two Girl Scout cookies, and Michael Jordan wore his alma mater’s shorts under those of the Chicago Bulls. So what does Julie Ireland, senior forward for Jennies soccer, do to get ready for a match?

PHOTO BY ALEX AGUEROS / SPORTS EDITOR Senior forward Julie Ireland (13) attempts to play a ball near the goal Sunday, Oct. 18., against Northeastern State.
PHOTO BY ALEX AGUEROS / SPORTS EDITOR
Senior forward Julie Ireland (13) attempts to play a ball near the goal Sunday, Oct. 18., against Northeastern State.

“(I) just walk into the locker room with a cup of water,” Ireland said.
Well, maybe she doesn’t actually have a pregame ritual, but, with the year she’s having, she doesn’t need one.
Earlier this season, Ireland broke an MIAA record set in 2001 for most consecutive games with a goal scored. Her streak lasted eight games, ending in the team’s 1-2 loss against Fort Hays State Sunday, Oct. 4. Ireland is also tied for 31st in total goals in Division II women’s soccer after her goal in the 81st minute of Friday’s match with Central Oklahoma.
Ireland hasn’t let the success go to her head though.
“I had no idea that that was kept track of. So it was cool when I saw that,” Ireland said of her MIAA record for most consecutive games with a goal scored.
Ireland credits the bulk of her success to teamwork.
“It’s very important that our team has good chemistry because it’s a team sport. One person can’t really carry the team on their back,” Ireland said. “There are certain people during certain games that have to take the initiative to make something happen, but no soccer game can be played 1 v. 11.”
Ireland, a Lake St. Louis native, started playing soccer when she was 4 years old. She said she used to play a lot of different sports but eventually settled on soccer.
“For some reason, I just always picked soccer,” she said. “I don’t know why. It’s always cold outside and I hate the cold.”
Lewis Theobald, head coach for Jennie’s soccer, said he watched Julie play three times in high school before offering her a spot at UCM.
“The first time I watched (her play) – she didn’t stand out for us,” Theobald said. “But her club coach strongly recommended her. So we watched her a couple more times, and Julie was a finisher. When she had chances, she finished.”
Theobald said he recognized a lot of potential in Ireland and thought she was a good fit for the team. He said she didn’t play a lot her freshman year because – like most freshmen – she was homesick.
“So it took her awhile to adjust to college life,” Theobald said. “And now she is very mature, has a good outlook on life, very level headed, has a good balance in her life.”
This season is Ireland’s last on the field. She will graduate in December 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in nursing. She said she has no aspirations to play soccer beyond the college level, although her father has a different idea.
“My dad has this huge vision that I’m going to be on the United States Women’s team,” Ireland said. “That would be awesome, but if it happens it happens. At the same time, I love my major – I love nursing – and I can’t wait to start that.”
Ireland said most nursing students enjoy patient interaction, but she’s not most students.
“I really enjoy the (operating room) and the gross parts,” she said. “I want to fix what’s wrong… I want to go in there and find out what’s wrong (and) fix it so they can live a better, healthier life.”
Regardless of where she ends up after college, Ireland said soccer would always be a part of her life.
“Soccer is never going to be shut out of my life once I graduate or after this season,” she said. “But, whatever happens happens. If I go to a tryout (for a pro team) and I make it, then nursing might be on the back burner. But if I don’t make it, I still have the major that I love.”
Ireland said not being able to play next year is bittersweet, but it will give her the time to pursue a goal off the field.
“Have friends – a social life.”
Ireland said she will miss being part of the team, but the added free time will let her be a normal college student.
“I’m going to be a normal college student. I can do whatever I want,” she said. “Go to the homecoming game, go to the homecoming game with whatever beverage in my hand that I would like to… I’ll be 22. I won’t have soccer running my life along with nursing; I’ll just have to focus on nursing.
“So I think I’ll have a lot more free time. I know I’ll miss soccer but I’m excited to see what a normal college student is.”