Rachel Monken, a senior goalkeeper on the Althoff High School girls soccer team, signed a letter of intent with the Golden Hurricane on Thursday. Monken has five shutouts, 65 saves and a 1.16 goals-against average for the Crusaders, who were 12-2-4 entering their game Thursday at Wesclin.
"I had a lot of time to think about it," Monken said. "I didn't really know what to do at first because I was deciding between playing soccer and not playing soccer. But I think in the end, I knew I had a really big passion for soccer and that's what I've loved doing all my life. I'm really short for a goalkeeper (5-foot-5), so that has its ups and downs. I've had to learn how to deal with those. I think signing with Tulsa is a really big deal."
Monken, who will double-major in psychology and nutrition and dietetics, also was considering South Florida, Rollins College in Florida and Dayton, among a handful of others.
"Then this offer came around, and it was a really good offer," said Monken, an honors student. "After I visited, I was like, 'I know I want to go here. This is where I want to be.' I love the coaches, I love the team. They were super-nice. We always passed through (Oklahoma) whenever we visit my aunt in Texas, but it was the first time I had ever visited the campus. It was really awesome."
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The Golden Hurricane was 3-12-4 overall and 1-6-2 in the American Conference last season. They were 8-9-1 and 4-4 in 2016. Tulsa graduated its top two goalies from 2017, Courtney McKeon and Rebecca Defer.
"Going into any division, but especially Division I, you have to earn your spot every single year," Monken said. "It's never guaranteed. I like competition; my motivation is competition. I think working every year to earn my spot is going to make me work harder to become a better goalkeeper in the end.
"So I never go into it expecting to play. I'm hoping to play, and I think I'll have a really good opportunity. ... I'm 5-5, so it's kind of obvious my height is a big differential between other goalkeepers. All my life I've had to work at punching out balls and being good in the air. I'm going to have to keep working at."
Monken is the daughter of Jimmy and Teri Monken, of Swansea. Jimmy Monken's father, Jim, is the former football, baseball and track and field coach at defunct Assumption High in East St. Louis. He also was an assistant football coach at McKendree University.
Rachel Monken has two twins at Althoff: sister Sophia and brother Jimmy, a popular first name in the family.
"There are so many Jimmys," Rachel Monken said with a laugh.