The senior defender has played a key role in Baldwin’s success this fall (four consecutive shutouts, 3-0-1 record as of Sept. 17). Baldwin soccer head coach Adrian Cox said of the four-year starting defender: “She has been instrumental in building the Baldwin soccer program the past four years. She’s a versatile multi-sport athlete [basketball, lacrosse], very humble, modest and respected leader on and off the field. Lauren will be a great addition to the college program that is fortunate to get her services. She is a model student-athlete with strong moral character and integrity.” Bracken is head of Baldwin’s Athletic Association (leadership group) and a member of the Lower Merion Soccer Club Storm Team that won the 2017 and 2018 Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association State Cup Championship and is the No. 1 ranked club team in state for their age group.
Q: Have you always played defender? What sparked your original interest in the defender position?
A: When I was younger I played outside mid and sometimes forward, but one tournament my club coach put me in as outside back and I have played ever since. I love playing defense because I am one of the last players before the goal, I get to win the ball back, and get to see the whole field.
Q: What do you think has been the biggest key to Baldwin’s defensive success this season?
A: I think the biggest key to Baldwin’s defense has been everyone’s willingness to step up in new positions. We graduated three great starters and leaders of the back line last year, so throughout the beginning of the season Coach Cox has moved many players around in different defensive positions. No matter who gets put where everyone works extremely hard, and we have had many key saves by our goalie, Simi Bleznak. The shutouts have been a result of everyone’s defensive commitment and positive spirit.
Q: How do you see your role as a leader on Baldwin’s defense?
A: My role as a leader of Baldwin’s defense has been bringing knowledge and experience to the field. There are new underclassman stepping up in the other defensive positions and I want to use my experience to help them grow as players.
Q: Tell us a little about your role as head of Baldwin’s Athletic Association (leadership group). What (in your opinion) has been the most meaningful activity of the Association during your tenure as head of the organization?
A: Baldwin’s Athletic Association plans school wide events like winter spirit night and pep rallies. I work with the fellow reps to kinder school spirit, good sportsmanship, and participation in athletics. So far this school year, we haven’t held any big events yet as we are still planning for the big year ahead of us. The next biggest event coming up that Baldwin AA plans is Homecoming. We are working very hard to make this years homecoming extremely memorable from the theme to the bonfire to the activities on Middle Field. I am very excited to see the outcome of everyone’s hard work!
Q: You were a member of the Lower Merion Soccer Club Storm Team that won the 2017 and 2018 Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association State Cup Championship. What has been your most memorable experience with that team – can you share it with us?
A: I have had many memorable experiences, but one of the most memorable would be when my team went to the Region 1 Championships in West Virginia for the first time. It was very special because there was an opening ceremony for all the teams, we stayed in college dorm rooms, and it was a new experience for everyone. I love going to Regionals each year because we get to play other good teams with the chance of going to the national tournament. We always have fun together on and off the field at these regional tournaments.
Q: What do you think is the strongest aspect of your game? What part of your game are you working on the most currently?
A: I think the strongest aspect of my game is my ability to be a reliable defender in the back line while staying composed. I am strong with winning the ball in the defensive third and then finding my teammates to take the ball into the attack. I am currently working on my vocal presence on the field. These past couple of years I have been a little too quiet on the field, so this year I really want to use my voice more which will help me be more of a leader to the back line.
Q: Tell us a little about your pre-game preparation the day of a game.
A: I always eat three hours before my game and have to be careful with what I eat. I love to listen to music to help me get in the zone and pumped up.
Q: Who have been your biggest soccer mentors, and what was the most important thing you learned from each one?
A: My biggest soccer mentors would have to be my coaches. Pete Gangl has been my club coach for Lower Merion since I was 7. Pete has been instrumental in my soccer career and I would not be the player I am today without out him. He has taught me everything about the game and has been a great coach for the past 10 years. Dan Mouw became the assistant coach four years ago and has helped me continue to develop into the defender I am today as he worked closely with the back line. Coach Cox has helped me become a well rounded player and taught me how to become a leader on and off the field these past four years.
Q: You wear uniform jersey No. 2. Why did you pick this number – was there a particular reason?
A: I picked 2 when I first started playing soccer because it was my birth date. It has been my favorite number ever since.
Q: What do you think you might like to major in at college? Is there a career path that particularly interests you at the present time?
A: I am interested in majoring in the health sciences. I am not exactly sure what I want to but definitely something in the medical field like sports medicine, nursing, or pre-med.
Q: Do you participate in any other extracurricular activities at Baldwin School? What sparked your interest in each of these activities?
I am a part of DECA, Lamplighters, and the school yearbook. I joined DECA my sophomore year and I have done it ever since. I loved going to the conference in Hershey and working on a business project. It has pushed me out of my comfort zone and has taught me many new things about the business world. I became a lamplighter because I love to show others what great community we have here at Baldwin.
Fun facts – Lauren Bracken
Favorite book: The Kite runner.
Favorite TV show: New Girl, That 70’s Show.
Favorite movie: The Greatest Showman.
Favorite pre-game pump-up song: Every time we touch, Final Countdown.
Favorite team: Philadelphia Eagles.
Favorite place to visit: The beach.
Favorite pre-game meal: Bagel.
Person I most admire: “My brothers, Andrew and Matt, have been very influential in my life. I look up to them because of their confidence, knowledge, and encouragement. Ever since I was young they have helped me improve my soccer skills, and I know I can go to them for anything.”
Family members: parents Jim and Teenie, brothers Andrew and Matt, dog Ginger.
(To be selected as Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her coach.)
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