‘Best goalkeeper in the state’: Titze provides leadership, crucial saves during MHS career
Caroline Titze has never been a fan of running, so standing in Mitchell’s goal getting the rush of a match-sealing save suits her.
It’s always been that way for the Kernel goalie.
“When I was little when I was playing in rec, I didn’t want to run,” Titze said. “So I went into the goal and I just stayed there.”
Titze has never left the goalie box.
The senior likes using her hands and there’s few things she enjoys more than making a match-winning save, which has become a consistent theme during her Mitchell High School career. Titze’s been its goalkeeper since eighth grade, recording 602 saves prior to her senior season and being a major part in Mitchell (8-2-1) recording eight clean sheets this season.
She gives the team a sense of security as the last line of defense, even if a mistake by her would be more detrimental than a field player. She simply doesn’t make mistakes often, though.
“Anytime the ball goes back, there’s a sense that she’s going to be solid and there’s not going to be the mistakes,” MHS coach Bob Lemon said.
There’s many intricate details that go into being a top-notch goalkeeper beyond what someone might see as changing the direction of a shot. Playing on the Dakota Alliance club soccer team helped her hone those skills, such as better positioning in the net and hand placement.
Lemon has witnessed those improvements every year. Even as the Kernels’ rise has resulted in fewer scoring chances for the opposing team, Titze is still studying and trying to become a more technically-sound goalkeeper after matches.
“She’s gotten much better understanding where she needs to be in the goal for certain shots,” Lemon said. “She’ll analyze after games: Where should I have been? Even if it doesn’t cost us anything or even if there’s not a serious threat, she’ll analyze and try to figure out where she needs to go and understand.”
It transformed her into the goalkeeper Lemon envisioned when he took over four seasons ago, and to some, the best goalkeeper in the state. After a 1-0 win at defending state champion Yankton on Aug. 20, Yankton coach Tyler Schuring told the Yankton Press & Dakotan, “Titze’s the best goalkeeper in the state right now.”
Ask Titze, though, and she shies away from that title. She laughs and says she doesn’t think about where she ranks in the state. Rather, she is more inclined to speak about how Mitchell has grown as a program during her career, and how the rough early years helped shape her current success.
Titze has seen Mitchell go from a bottom-feeder to potentially hosting a first-round state tournament match for the second straight year. She used to be tasked with getting 20-plus saves on a consistent basis. And even as the losses piled up, she believes it helped her reach the current pinnacle of her success.
“I think it made me stronger mentally,” said Titze, who was all-state honorable mention last year. “It kind of prepared me for facing shots. I think it made me a better goalkeeper.”
Whether it’s shutting out Yankton, helping Mitchell allow just 0.6 goals per match (7 goals allowed in 11 matches), or her personal favorite save, tipping a Watertown shot over the crossbar to preserve a 2-1 win on Sept. 10, Titze has been a stalwart in the back. She’s become a leader for the defense, telling players where to position themselves during matches, as well as an option for the offense to play a ball back to her.
As a result, she accomplished her lifelong goal of playing college soccer. Titze will be on partial-scholarship at the University of Sioux Falls next year. She also had interest from multiple schools in Minnesota.
“I really liked the environment of a smaller college,” said Titze, who is undecided on a major. “I thought it would be a good fit for me, and it’s close to home.”
For now, she continues to be the leader on the field and reliable last line of defense the Kernels need during another winning season. No matter where she feels she ranks among the state’s best goalkeepers, her team still trusts her and it’s been just as likely Mitchell scores 10 goals than she allows multiple goals in a single game this year.
“She is the best in Mitchell,” Lemon said. “That’s really what we’re banking on that she’ll be our solid rock and be solid night in and night out.”