Cougars On the Field: Spiller gives her all to protect her team

Redshirt junior goalkeeper Taylor Spiller of Cincinnati, Ohio, dives to stop the ball in this Sept. 25 game. This was one of 11 saves she had this game. Throughout the season, Spiller had 76 saves like this one overall.

Redshirt junior goalkeeper Taylor Spiller of Cincinnati, is one of two goalkeepers on the women’s soccer team, a position she found a passion for at a young age.


Spiller is majoring in mathematics and pursuing her teaching license to be able to teach K-12 math classes. She said teaching is something she’s always considered in her life, so being able to achieve her goals has been great for her.


“It’s kind of always been in the back of my head. Teaching was always a constant from when I was younger,” Spiller said. “In high school, I would find myself sitting in classes and being like ‘Oh, I kind of want to do this in my classroom one day.’”


She said she’s wanting to use what she learns at SIUE to return home to be able to teach closer to her family.


Spiller said her beginning in soccer came from a young age, and that of her siblings who also tried soccer, she’s the only one who stayed interested in it.


“I played for my community team until I was ten and when I was ten years old I tried out at a club team and played club soccer until I graduated high school,” Spiller said.


After playing up to high school, Spiller said she had to decide on what position she wanted to play after switching between goalkeeping and field positions throughout her younger years. She said although her team wasn’t the best, she enjoyed being able to feel like she was defending her team and has since carried that idea on to college. 


“I had played [as] a goalkeeper for halves growing up and I liked it. Goalkeepers are the only ones that can use their hands, and when I was younger I thought that was cool,” Spiller said. “They’re the last person that can touch the ball before it goes into the back of the net and when I was younger I was like ‘I want to stop the ball.’”


Spiller said part of the decision she made was also due to wanting to be able to play goalkeeper more instead of risking not being able to as a part-time goalkeeper on a team.


“Goalkeeping kind of just stuck because I love the feeling of flying and being the last defender,” Spiller said.


She said being a goalkeeper forces you to experience a lot of stress and pressure, especially when you get scored on.


“As a goalkeeper, you obviously don’t want to get scored on that much and that often in every game, and it was really, really frustrating. You had to learn, and I learned a lot through all four of my years [in high school] and never quite took the sting off of getting scored on,” Spiller said.


After picking SIUE as her choice for her junior year, Spiller said continuing to play soccer was natural for her and allows her to keep herself active and push her limits. She said she learned about SIUE through playing soccer.


“I want to see how far I can push myself and how good I can be and how far I can take it in one sense. In another sense, I love it and it is my outlet from everything else in life, so if I want to get away from school, I can play soccer,” Spiller said.


Spiller said she’s also the first college athlete in her family, and has enjoyed much of her time being a part of the women’s soccer team. She said going from high school soccer to college soccer is still not easy, even though she enjoys it.


“Coming to college, and this is true for most people I believe … It’s a different physical demand on top of it’s a whole different mental demand of being away from home if you are, being in a completely new environment, having to deal with class loads and a whole different type of workload,” Spiller said.


She said she loves getting to be around other people like her who want to put in the work towards their sport and being able to learn different things from the friends she made on the team.


Despite the stress and pressure of being a college athlete, Spiller said she believes it allows her to have more structure in her college life and has given her many great memories from the friends she’s made on the team and the games she’s played.


“[During one of my first seasons] somebody put on ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ in the locker room [and] everyone got up, sang together and it was the last song before our coach came in to talk. That feeling was incredible, just to feel a part of the team and feel completely connected to everybody,” Spiller said. “I’ll never forget that feeling …and since then we’ve done that every year, and we don’t do it before any other game except for conference and any post-season.”


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