Although the graduated Kitty Qu won’t be in the net this season for Penn women’s soccer, a trio of goalkeepers are ready to take control this year.
The most experienced of the three, senior Ashley Gabor, has already made a name for herself at Penn. Meanwhile, freshman Laurence Gladu and sophomore Maggie Robinson are ready to bring their extensive high school and club experience to the field for Penn.
In seven career games and four starts, Gabor has only allowed three goals total. Most impressive was her junior year in which she held opponents scoreless in 225 total minutes. Gabor’s junior season was highlighted by games against Mount St. Mary’s and Delaware State, both contests where she didn’t give up a goal.
Soccer runs in the family for Gabor, with both of her brothers and her older sister playing. Gabor always enjoyed following in her sister’s footsteps and being interested in what her she was doing. Her sister was a goalkeeper, so it was natural for Gabor to also take up the position, and her love for goalkeeping has only grown since.
That same love of soccer wasn’t initially present for Gladu as she grew up, instead it came after her parents put her in sports as a way to use up all of the energy she had as a child. Gladu grew up playing soccer and hockey, but ultimately decided to commit to playing soccer.
“I really just enjoyed throwing myself everywhere, so being a keeper just stuck with me,” Gladu said.
Hailing from the Canadian province of Quebec, Gladu was the starting goalkeeper for its provincial team from 2015 to 2018. She also won the 2019 Quebec Cup with CS Monteuil, a semi-professional soccer club.
The freshman is not in Philadelphia yet, so she hasn’t had any in-person interactions with any of her teammates or the coaching staff. However, she’s been communicating weekly with her coaches and teammates via Zoom. Gladu has been to Philadelphia twice before, including once with her CS Monteuil team to play against the Quakers.
"I just really like the style of play they have," Gladu said. "And the coaching staff, even though I haven’t met them yet, talking with them, they’re really nice and I’m sure we will work very well together."
Similar to Gladu, Robinson discovered her love for soccer after her parents put her in a lot of different sports as a child. Robinson also spent time playing lacrosse and cross country in high school, however, soccer was always her main focus. Although playing three sports was a huge commitment for Robinson, it prepared her for the rigor of playing soccer at the collegiate level.
“When I was little, I didn’t like to run, even though that’s the whole point of soccer,” Robinson said. “They stuck me in goal because I didn't like to run, and I’ve been there ever since.”
All three goalies echoed the combination of a quality athletics program and an Ivy League education as motivations for picking Penn. More importantly, in their visits they saw the family atmosphere of the team and the demeanor of the coaching staff.
“The girls I met on the team seemed like really genuine people, and I just really wanted to be a part of the program,” Gabor said.
One of the players Gabor worked closely with was former goalkeeper and Penn record holder, Kitty Qu.
“I definitely learned a lot from her, and being able to play with someone who really cared about how the team did,” Gabor said. “Having that role model was probably the highlight of playing with her.”
Off the field, Gabor participated in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program for two years as a way to give back to the community. Robinson also previously worked with the Netter Center’s Young Quakers program last year, and is now contributing working with them currently with the Young Quakers Alumni program.
This summer, Robinson has taken some time to give back to the community as well. Robinson got a job through the Netter Center’s University-Assisted Community School Sports program, where she mentored West Philadelphia high school students and taught them how to become mentors and coaches themselves. In turn, those students would then lead practices for younger students.
The trio of goalkeepers have varying levels of experience, but they all are ready to compete in the net for the Quakers.