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Senior goalkeeper Laurence Gladu of Penn women's soccer during the matchup against Yale on Sept. 30. Credit: Sydney Curran

Penn women's soccer senior goalkeeper Laurence Gladu from Longueuil, Canada has strong Canadian roots and an ever-present charm. Gladu boasts an impressive record and received an All-Ivy Honorable Mention the past two years. 

Aside from posting an impressive .808 save percentage and 12 shutouts through her Penn career, her impact on the team goes far beyond her strong stats and accomplishments. Gladu’s coaches and teammates describe her as vibrant, competitive, understanding, supportive, and commanding. Gladu — fondly known as Glad by her teammates — is a designated hype-woman on the team. She is in charge of the “team vibe,” which includes controlling the music in the locker room, constantly making everyone smile, and leading the team with strong and consistent communication on the field. 

“She carries herself with a high level of confidence. The team feeds off of her and this trait,” coach Krissy Turner said. She also notes that Gladu has done a great job connecting with and embracing the freshman class this year. She appreciates Gladu’s desire to be her best and her strong passion for winning. 

At a young age, Gladu started playing a variety of different sports. Growing up in Canada, she faced a lot of pressure to play hockey, but eventually decided to give it up to focus exclusively on soccer. She started out as a striker on her club team and accidentally stumbled upon her love for goalkeeping. 

Her mom encouraged her new role as a goalie because she thought it was a good way for Gladu to get some of her energy out. Gladu always knew she wanted to play soccer at college in the United States. With the help of her incredibly supportive parents and coaches, she traveled to showcases, ID Camps, and got in touch with college coaches. Gladu eventually decided to commit to Penn for its close-knit team community, pretty campus, and good location close to the city. 

Gladu’s freshman year at Penn was during the COVID-19 pandemic so the team was unable to have a normal season. She says, “It was very weird coming on the team and meeting everyone with a mask, because you are kind of hidden.” However, she doesn’t think it was all bad, since “because of [COVID-19] we were only really able to hang out with each other, which definitely brought us closer as a team, especially my class.” Gladu thinks it was very important that they all had each other and were able to support each other during a tricky time.

One of these close relationships Gladu formed was with senior center-back Ginger Fontenot, Gladu’s roommate, who describes her as “the most understanding person I’ve ever met” and as someone who “has a great relationship with everyone on the team. A lot of people really look up to her.” Fontenot described Gladu as a strong communicator and always the first to congratulate her teammates, particularly the defense, when they make a good play.  

Gladu says one of the most important things she has learned from being on the team the past four years is how to rely on others, even if you don’t know them super well. She also notes how important it has been for her to invest time in relationships and develop trust with her teammates which allows them to create a really amazing team dynamic. 

Although Gladu has developed close relationships with many of her teammates and describes her team and the larger athlete community as “one big family,” she still misses her family back home in Canada. 

“The hardest part of my experience at Penn has been being away from home," she said. "It’s not super fun not to be near my parents, and to come out of my room and not see my mom.” However, she is incredibly grateful for the family she has built here. 

Gladu has had many incredible moments on the field at Penn, but her favorite moment came last year when the team played Brown. She says “Even though we didn’t get the result we were hoping for, the team had a great performance, and I saved a [penalty kick] from a very strong player in the league which felt great.” One thing Gladu has worked on a lot was improving her attitude and learning how to deal with making mistakes and getting scored on. She has learned how to reset and focus on getting the next one which has made her a stronger player and person. 

Now as a senior, Gladu is a leader on the team, especially among the goalkeepers. She describes this role as, “challenging because everyone looks up to you and you have the responsibility to be a good example, but a privilege to lead such an awesome team.” 

Gladu is sad to think about moving on from the team following this season, but she has big plans ahead. Since she missed a season due to COVID-19, she has an extra year of eligibility which she hopes to use at a different university next year, maybe pursuing a master's degree. After, she dreams of playing professional soccer or returning to Canada and attending medical school.

“I’m just going to see where life takes me and how soccer goes,” Gladu explains. However, she plans to take with her the lessons she’s learned and the strong connections she’s made at Penn wherever she goes.