Thinking inside the box: ASU goalkeepers battle for stardom

Sydney Day and Nikki Panas continue friendly competition on the field

Senior Sydney Day and sophomore Nikki Panas battle day in and day out for the starting goalkeeper position, remaining in a friendly but competitive tug-of-war to stand firm in the goal.

However, so far this season, head coach Graham Winkworth said their relationship is a great rivalry but also great teamwork. 

"The way they are fighting it out is in a positive manner, encouraging one another and pushing each other in training," Winkworth said. 

Panas, who joined the Sun Devil squad last year, has competed in Polish under-15 and under-17 women's national teams as well as Canadian clubs Whitecaps FC and Scottish Angels in her hometown of Edmonton.

Since joining the squad, Panas has been an asset to the team, recording 81 saves in 2017, the seventh highest number of saves in ASU history for a single season.    

Day, who has spent her last three years on the sidelines, is pushing harder than ever in her last season. 

Day said although Panas is her competitor, there is a different kind of bond in supporting each other. 

"We don't want to bring each other down," Day said. "But we do want to come up together, it's nice to have people who are pushing you and wanting to work hard and pushing you past your limit." 

Unlike midfielders and forwards that typically get rotated often, the goalkeeping position doesn't, which adds pressure on the two. 

"I expect (with) them that it is a 50/50 battle and they need to continue to work hard and push one another," said Winkworth. "If they took a negative mentality towards the other one that person is likely to lose the spot." 

Both goalkeepers have found success of their own as non-conference play has wrapped up.

So far this season,Day has recorded 12 saves in eight games played for a 3-1 starting record. 

Panas, on the other hand, has played in five games, earned eight saves and has a 2-1 starting record. 

Both are currently at 80 percent or higher in saving percentages going into conference play on Saturday.

"Having a good support system ... means a lot as a goalkeeper because it's such a hard position to play," Panas said. "You don't get subbed in that often, it's usually one or the other and just being supportive on the bench or on the field (and) knowing that you have two other girls that have your back means a lot."  

Reach the reporter at or follow @Noriega_Edith on Twitter. 

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