GREENBELT – Jasmine Booker was trained in a manner that most goalkeepers do not experience playing in the United States.
Five years ago, the Eleanor Roosevelt senior spent time in a Central American country when her mother, Carmen, was hired for work the U.S. Embassy. Booker spent time playing with a semi-pro women’s side affiliated with Costa Rican professional team Club Sport Herediano.
During those trainings, coaches tested her by having academy boys players, some who ended up joining the club’s professional team, take shots at her in hot, sunny conditions.
“I had to learn to save really hard shots,” Booker said. “We had a really small field so it was like indoor soccer with fast pace. I’ve gotten used to that, but (in the U.S.) the game is a lot slower so I am able to read plays. But, girls can shoot hard too.”
Fast forward to Nov. 7, with temperatures in the low 40s and shots firing toward her goal posts in the rain, Booker dove quickly, smacking each shot away and keeping her clean sheet alive as much as possible.
“In the back of my mind, I knew she could make the saves,” midfielder Madison Endres said. “When you see plays were it is one-on-one with the goalie, you get a little nervous, but you trust your goalie and we trust (Booker).”
Booker’s five second-half saves, six in total, contained a combative Parkdale to help Roosevelt win the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) 4A South Regional Championship. The Lady Raiders become the first county team to win the region in two years.
Booker’s stellar performance in goal helped preserve a victory for Roosevelt after a second half charge by the visiting Parkdale side. The Lady Panthers (8-3) funneled their attacks through junior attacking midfielder Madelin Mejia who, at 5-foot-1, stampeded through the Roosevelt midfield and defense with ease, firing shots at will at goal, testing Booker.
“Jasmine makes saves that most people don’t make,” Roosevelt Head Coach Bob Sowers said. “She’s one tough cookie and you can never think that ball is going all the way with her in goal.”
Low temperatures and steady rainfall affected both teams even though the game was played on Roosevelt’s new turf field.
The Lady Raiders took advantage four minutes into the game as Endres’ volley shot off an Erika Jackson corner kick bounced off the hands of the Parkdale goalkeeper and slowly crossed the goal line. Endres scored again five minutes later, cleaning up a loose ball in the box to give Roosevelt a two-goal cushion.
Parkdale became more of an aggressor in the second half after a formation switch by Head Coach Rebecca Bethea, however midfielder Corina Miko still added a third goal for the Raiders. Mejia then finally broke through Booker two minutes later, scoring Parkdale’s only goal of the match.
With only five seniors departing this year’s roster, Bethea hopes the experience of playing in their second consecutive regional will prepare the Panthers to take the next step into becoming an elite team in the county.
“We just need to learn how to play one-two passing and be faster on the ball and without the ball,” Mejia said. “We lost, but I know I gave it all I got and so did my teammates.”
Roosevelt will have a new challenge as it takes on Broadneck from Annapolis this Saturday in the state semifinals at Dr. Henry A Wise, Jr. High School. With several of his players playing on club teams with Broadneck talent, Sowers said his team will have to fight for every ball, add pressure on their opponents, and score when possible in order to win.
“They play a lot faster than we play,” Booker said. “So we are going to have to step up to their level if we have any chance of beating them.”