By: Nichole Singleton, Women’s Premier Soccer League
HOUSTON — AHFC Royals’ star keeper, Kyleigh Hall, showed magic in goal during the 2019 WPSL season.
The junior from Texas A&M University — Corpus Christi finished in the top 10 in the entire league with a .840 save percentage in eleven games. Hall helped the Royals finish second in the Central Region – Red River South Division, just two points behind TTi Bluebonnets.
“We had a very competitive group of goalkeepers this year, and this raised the level in both training and games,” AHFC Royals coach Nikola Barjaktarevic said. “Kyleigh continued to work hard throughout the season, have a positive attitude and really became a big part of the team.”
As natural as Hall’s poise in goal looks, she didn’t always see herself at the keeper position. It wasn’t until Hall began playing academy, where her team was in need of a keeper, that she stepped up to the challenge. Hall instantly fell in love with the position and hasn’t look back since.
Hall credits Hope Solo as her inspiration and biggest role model.
“I’ve always watched her play, and I felt the connection watching her overcome obstacles and become the best female keeper that has played for the USWNT and the world,” Hall said. “I’ve looked up to her my whole life, and hope one day to become a goalkeeper with that much potential to break records and play for my country.”
Hall certainly has the potential. She finished the season with 42 saves and just eight goals against. Hall also had four clean sheets on the season. The June 19 game vs. TTi Bluebonnets is the match that sticks out to Hall the most.
“The fight that we had as a team to push through the game was extremely intense,” Hall said. “It was cool to see a team that hardly knew each other come together and fight like we have played together for years.”
The game ended in a 1-1 draw after a back-and-forth battle between both sides. After the Royals went up 1-0 with a penalty in the sixth minute, both teams attacked the goal aggressively with numerous opportunities that just didn’t find the net in part to superb goalkeeping. It wasn’t until the 80th minute when TTi leveled the game with a penalty kick of its own.
“Kyleigh was able to step up when we needed her to and made some amazing saves with one of her best games being playing our conference rivals TTI,” Barjaktarevic said. “It was just great to see her confidence grow as well as us coming closer as a team with each one of her saves.”
Hall, who was once a superstitious in her early playing years, credits her game-ready mentality to learning (“It’s all about mindset”) and getting focused with her teammates, though Hall does admit she still has her personal rituals.
“I put my right glove on first. When I am approaching the goal, I stop on the top of the 18-yard box, take a deep breath and walk to the PK spot,” Hall said. “As I get close, I start jogging to the line and stop, where I take another deep breath and turn around ready for the game.”
The WPSL was enjoyable for Hall, for she describes it as being a new atmosphere for her to play in. Hall has always pictured herself pursuing soccer professionally and hopes this opportunity to grow as a player moves her career in the right direction.
“I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was excited to take on any challenges and show the WPSL what I can do.” Hall said.