When Jess Poulin gives up a goal, people will often shout words of encouragement, telling her to keep her head up. Inside, Poulin knows that’s not a problem.

“Honestly,” Poulin said, “it fires me up more than anything.”

Poulin, a Lawrence High School graduate, is a sophomore and two-year starter for the Husson University women’s soccer team. She chose Husson because it was close to home but not next door, and she liked the school’s criminal justice program. But she had no intentions of playing soccer until she roomed with Lauren Marcoux, a fellow Lawrence graduate who is on the soccer team.

Now, Poulin lives with three soccer players and plays soccer and softball at Husson. That’s created some conflicts — she’s trying to establish herself on the softball team but has to skip fall softball, for one thing — but Poulin said that even in high school, her grades were better when she was playing sports.

“The hardest part is just making everyone happy,” she said. “I like being busy. If I don’t do well in school, I can’t play soccer, and I can’t play softball. So it keeps me focused.”

Part of what helps Poulin be successful in the net is her experience. First-year Husson coach Carly Gettler likes her goalkeeper to be a leader, and Poulin is able to fill that role.

“She’s one of those rare players who’s actually played goalkeeper her whole life,” Gettler said. “She’s pretty skillful. She’s still eager to learn. She’s bringing really high intensity. She’s really good about getting the team up for the game, and keeping our team up.”

That’s not always easy. How much action Poulin sees depends on the quality of the opposition and how well her team keeps the action away from her, and that changes with every game.

“Some days, I might get 23 shots on me,” Poulin said. “Against Thomas, I think I touched the ball once.”

Poulin was North Atlantic Conference Rookie of the Week several times last fall, and wants to play at the same level or beyond this season in conference play. Gettler says Poulin does a nice job directing Husson’s back line, but adds that’s an area where a keeper can always improve.

“We have full confidence in her,” Gettler said. “I’d like to see her have more confidence in her abilities. She’s not often asking for the ball back. I’d like to see her kind of running the show out there.”

In softball, Poulin plays for a team that was 33-13 her freshman year, including 15-1 in the conference. Husson annually has a strong recruiting class, so Poulin and many other players are battling for playing time. Poulin had 26 plate appearances as a freshman, and her seven hits and six walks gave her a .350 batting average and a .500 on-base percentage.

“In high school, I was used to playing every single game,” Poulin said. “It would ultimately be nice to get some playing time, show them what I can do. Back home, softball, that was my thing.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

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