Sydney Malham is the head of Ohio's “goalkeeper union.”
Coined by former Ohio goalie Erin Beurket, the phrase is used to describe the relationship between the goalkeepers on the team, and Malham is keeping the spirit alive with Ohio’s younger goalies.
The group includes “some of the weirder people on the team,” as Malham described it, and includes Sam Wexell and Reese Dorsey.
“We’re always making jokes to each other, and the other players are like, ‘What are they talking about?’” Malham said.
The goalkeeper union is on the same wavelength, both on and off the field. They spend most of their time in practice together, taking dives and working in the net, and they meet off the field as much as they can.
Malham, a junior, shared that same connection with Beurket during her time in Athens, learning a lot from her and developing a friendship with her that lasts even as Beurket no longer suits up in the green and white.
Malham has developed into a leader for Ohio, and she owes a lot of that maturation to Beurket.
“(Beurket) was by far one of the most influential people that I’ve had here,” Malham said. “I’m really lucky to have played with her.”
Beurket and Malham were teammates for two years. The duo split goalie duties in 2017 before Malham received most of the minutes in 2018.
Even as her minutes declined, Beurket stayed supportive of Malham, and Malham felt confident knowing she still had Beurket in her corner willing to help her performance on the field.
It also provided a lesson she wants to pass to Wexell and Dorsey.
The goalie position always breeds competition — there can only be one player in net — but Malham is always rooting for her fellow goalies to succeed, too. She did it when she was competing for time with Beurket, and she’s doing it now as the established top goalie for the Bobcats with Wexell and Dorsey.
Coach Aaron Rodgers also saw Beurket’s value as a team leader, and he’s thrilled to see how her team-first mentality has transferred over to Malham.
”Erin was amazing,” Rodgers said. “Her spirit and her character has just spilled over to the goalkeeping core that we have now. Sydney has been able to learn from that, for sure.”
With Ohio fighting to be a top team in the Mid-American Conference after a historic 2018 season, Rodgers still maintains a focus on developing young players, and that mentality doesn’t change when he looks at the goalie position.
Rodgers believes the best thing for Wexell and Dorsey is to continue working together and pushing one another to be better while staying supportive of each other.
That’s what Malham did before she earned the starting job. So far, that experience has paid off.
As Wexell and Dorsey continue to learn from Malham, the bond between the goalkeeper union becomes closer and closer.
“It’s fun to hang out with (Wexell and Dorsey) more than it is to hang out with the field players,” Malham said jokingly.
Just as she found a lasting friendship with Beurket, Malham has friends in Wexell and Dorsey that will last longer than their time in Athens.