Senior goalkeeper Bailey Redden will be joining her close friend and teammate Taylor Mathenia at Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
Redden, the first-team goalie on the Belleville News-Democrat’s all-area team, has given a verbal commitment to play for the Redhawks. Mathenia, a forward, committed last week.
“It’s exciting, especially since Taylor and I are good friends and we’ve been playing together the last few years,” Redden said. “It’s exciting to know we’re going to be going there together. We’ve talked about being roommates. That would help us be more comfortable at the college setting.”
Redden chose SEMO over Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and University of Missouri-St. Louis. SEMO, which plays in the Ohio Valley Conference, is about 100 miles from Belleville.
“Some of the colleges I was looking at were more around this area where I live,” Redden said. “SEMO isn’t too far away, yet at the same time, I will still be leaving my hometown and going to get that college experience. Also, the coaching staff was great. They were really welcoming, and I could see myself going to SEMO.
“SIUE and UMSL were my other two top choices. I had been talking to UMSL longer than I had SEMO or SIUE, so I formed a connection with that school. But SIUE was very generous when they offered me a scholarship, and they really showed a lot of interest in me.”
I used to tell everybody, ‘I’m not good enough to play Division I. I don’t want to play Division I. It’s too much for me. I don’t want to do it.’ But my junior year of soccer season, when I did pretty good, I was like, ‘Maybe I could play Division I.’
Belleville West senior goalie Bailey Redden
Redden posted 10 shutouts, made 75 saves and had a 0.71 goals-against average as a junior for the Maroons, who were 15-4-2 overall and 4-1-1 in the Southwestern Conference. As a sophomore, Redden had six shutouts, 67 saves and a 1.18 GAA.
Redden represented the metro-east on the all-state team in the spring along with BND Player of the Year Emily Holten (Collinsville), Lexi Grote (Granite City), Andrea Frerker (Collinsville), Abigail Crabtree (Edwardsville) and Brianna Hatfield (Alton). Grote will be a freshman at SEMO this fall. Another metro-east player, Columbia’s Lauren Kaempfe, will be a junior.
Quickness and agility are Redden’s biggest assets. She left her feet to make dazzling diving stops throughout the season, helping the Maroons become one of the staunchest defensive teams in the metro-east with just 16 goals allowed.
“This past junior year, I did not expect that,” Redden said of her effectiveness. “I surprised myself, I guess you could say.
“I used to tell everybody, ‘I’m not good enough to play Division I. I don’t want to play Division I. It’s too much for me. I don’t want to do it.’ But my junior year of soccer season, when I did pretty good, I was like, ‘Maybe I could play Division I.’”
But Redden is anything but content.
“I’m always looking to sharpen my goalkeeper skills, because I can always improve on that,” Redden said. “But I definitely need to get stronger. At SEMO, for their goalkeepers, they put a big emphasis on working in the weight room and getting stronger. All around, I want to sharpen all of my skills.”
Redden said she capitalizes on practices to stay sharp and hone her skills.
“Some people underestimate practices, but I definitely use those to my advantage,” she said. “I’ve always come to practice; I’m always there on time. I’m always training my best at practice. Outside of practice, my club coach (Lindsay Eversmeyer of Gateway Rush) gives us exercises that players in college would do, so I try to utilize those sometimes.”
It’s too early for Redden to determine how much playing time she will receive as a freshman for the Redhawks, who were 9-6-4 overall and 3-4-3 in the OVC last season under 18th-year coach Heather Nelson. SEMO has two goalies on its roster: redshirt freshman Maddie Gleeson and freshman Kayla Byrd.
“(Nelson) has told me she thinks I’ll be able to possibly battle for that (starting) spot,” Redden said. “She thinks I can come in as a freshman and challenge the other two goalkeepers. We’ll just have to see.”
David Wilhelm: @DavidMWilhelm