ELKO – An athlete can’t become a D-I signee or prospect without possessing remarkable talent.
Elko senior goalkeeper Lauryn Drake not only has what it takes to gain recognition from large-school programs from a rural area; she also has the skills, mettle and physical tools for the big-time to come calling.
Drake has signed her national letter of intent and will play goalie for Division-I program Alabama State University in Montgomery.
ASU earned the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship for the second-consecutive season and advanced to the NCAA tournament, falling in the opening round to South Carolina.
The Lady Hornets won the school’s first conference title in program history in 2016.
“Lauryn’s size is one of her strengths. She’s tall, and her wingspan allows her to get to almost everything,” said Elko coach Michelle Nicholls. “Her instincts have improved so much over the past few years. When she was a freshman, she came in timid. Playing goalie is second nature to her now. Her position in the goal, ability to read plays and cut off angles is amazing. She knows where she wants to be.”
While many athletes make multiple visits when deciding where to play in college, Drake needed just one – ASU.
She also received offers from Barton College (North Carolina), Missouri State University and Upper Iowa University.
Although she had interest and offers from multiple programs, her visit to Montgomery sealed her choice.
“I really liked the team and all the girls, and the coaches were cool,” Drake said. “The head coach is Jodie Smith. He’s getting a new assistant too.”
She will become the third Elko product to attend Alabama State, following EHS Class of 2012 graduate Emily Ziolkowski and former Lady Indian Kaedi Walther.
Drake’s list of accomplishments between the posts for the Lady Indians is as vast as her 5-foot-11 frame and even-longer wingspan.
In her senior season, she was named the 1st-Team All-State goalkeeper of the Division 3A, also selected the Goalkeeper of the Year in the 3A North.
Drake improved her one-on-one saves ability and remained steady when facing shots from distance, using her length, athleticism and knowledge of the game.
It was another busy year in the frame for Drake, as she faced 262 shots – coming up with 196 saves and allowing just 34 goals.
According to MaxPreps, Drake led the state in saves by 61 stops for the 3A division.
Drake notched double-digits saves in 10 of 22 ballgames that she faced opposing shots, tallying season highs of 14 stops on Oct. 18 against Lowry and again on Oct. 20 against South Tahoe – finishing with 13 saves on three occasions.
Drake closed her career with 419 saves against 565 shots, allowing 95 goals in three seasons at goalkeeper.
As a junior, Drake was well on her way to another 1st-Team All-State selection at goalie, but only playing in 15 of 23 soccer games made it very difficult – nearly impossible.
She was named a 2nd-Team All-State selection and 1st-Team All-League utility player after dislocating her thumb just nine games into the season.
In nine games as the anchor behind Elko’s defense, Drake allowed 22 goals on 104 on-goal shots – making 82 saves as a junior.
She finished with two shutouts and allowed one goal or less four times, giving up two goals or fewer in seven of nine contests.
Following the injury, she played six games in the field, also proving to be an offensive threat for the Lady Indians, notching three goals and finishing tied for fourth on the team in goals scored.
One of Drake’s goals actually came when she was playing goalie, launching a goal-to-goal boomer that struck gold on Sept. 2, 2016, against Jerome (Idaho) in Spring Creek.
Entering her career at Alabama State, Drake will be behind incoming senior Gianna Guyot.
Guyot, the SWAC Goalkeeper of the Year, led the league in goals against average in conference matches (.067) and save percentage (.875) last season. She tied for sixth in total saves in conference play, stopping 42 shots.
“She is only eligible for the fall, so I will be the only goalie on the roster in the spring. That helped my decision too,” Drake said. “I’m really looking forward to learning from her.”
Academically, Drake initially plans to study criminal justice as ASU.
Congrats to Lauryn Drake on becoming coach Nicholls’ first Division-I signee straight from high school and for a fantastic career at Elko High School, wishing her best of luck at the upper-level of collegiate athletics while playing Division-I soccer at Alabama State University.