EDWARDSVILLE - Edwardsville field hockey defender Rachel Goebel has always carried a positive attitude to the Tigers, and for the 2021 season, she'll bring the same thing to Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo.

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Goebel signed a letter of intent to attend Lindenwood and play for the field hockey team in a recent ceremony at Edwardsville High School, and will play for the Lions and head coach Sarah Baumann next fall.

Lindenwood had contacted Goebel in the past, and was attracted to the program and campus during her visit. The fact that two former Tiger players, Allie Hosto and Sophia Swalley, will be seniors on next year's team also assisted in her decision.

"They had contacted me last year, and asked if I was interested," Goebel said during an interview after the ceremony, "and I went on an official visit there, and I just fell in love with that. I fell in love with the program, with the campus, teammates, coaches, and actually, two of my former teammates in my freshman year; they were seniors. They go to Lindenwood and play field hockey, so that was kind of like a connection there, and I loved playing with them. It was like 'ooh, it would be cool playing with them again,'" she said with a laugh. "And at that comfort level, I'll know someone there, so they definitely influenced that, too."

The Lions play in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, considered one of the top Division-II athletic conferences in the nation, and Goebel is looking forward to the competition in the league. It's similar to the Tigers playing some of the best high schools in the St. Louis area.

"Oh, yeah," Goebel said. "I'm always used to playing really good schools. Villa (Duchesne), John Burroughs and (Mary Institute-Country Day) are just phenomenal schools. We've always had to play tough competition, which I like, because you're not going to improve unless you play the best teams. You're not going to learn, and it's always good to have a good fight."

Edwardsville head coach Jaimee Phegley is very happy with Goebel signing with the Lions, and believes she'll bring a lot to the table for Lindenwood.

"We are," Phegley said. "We are so excited for Rachel, not only because she's going to be playing at the next level, but because of the decision that she made. We love Lindenwood's program; we already have two Edwardsville girls that are there that have had quite successful college careers, and we're happy to see that Rachel's going to be joining that group. She has a great relationship with their coach already, who've we met several times in her career. So we're excited about seeing her play under coach (Sara) Nagel."

Phegley agreed that the GLVC will provide great competition for Goebel and the Lions, and also knows that Division-II athletics are also very competitive.

"Oh, definitely," Phegley said. "Sometimes, when people hear Division-II, they don't think it's as highly competitive, but she herself in some very competitive situations. And I'm excited for her to continue to push. Rachel's been taught playing field hockey on and off the school season since the beginning, since sixth grade, and she's really developed her skills through club field hockey, so I'm excited to see her get to continue applying in these tough competitions."

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Goebel also considered Indiana University in Indiana, Pa., and a pair of Division-III schools, along with some non-field hockey schools, but degree-wise and from a financial standpoint, it came down between Indiana and Lindenwood. She's planning on majoring in art design, with a minor in fashion design, and hopes to become an interior designer or anything in the creative field. Goebel will bring an enthusiastic and supportive spirit to the Lions.

"I've always been like a support system on my team," Goebel said. "I've always been like a little cheerleader, so I hope to bring positivity and my hard work."

Phegley also thinks that Goebel will bring a lot to the Lindenwood team as well.

"Besides just having talent on the field, Rachel is a very dedicated player," Phegley said. "She helps to plan practice on a regular basis after every game, she would come with pages of notes from things she could fix, some things her teammates could fix, things they did well. So, one thing I think she'll bring to the team is that positive attitude and that constant desire to do better, and help her teammates to get better."

Although the Tigers' 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team still held practices and had intrasquad games every week, and Goebel was a big help in those games as well.

"Rachel was actually one of our captains this year, during our interschool league, so she still had the opportunity of leadership roles in our scrimmages every week, and were very competitive," Phegley said. "So she still was able to prepare for her upcoming season next year."

Phegley is also very excited that Goebel will be close to home, where family and friends can still see her play.

"My favorite part is that she'll be so close," Phegley said, "so we'll get to go check her out at some of her games, and see her play in some of those games. We're just really proud of her; I know that she was kind of on the fence, because not having a season played with her emotions, and we're just really proud that she has stuck it out, and has been positive through all of it, and she decided to continue to play."

Goebel was disappointed that the Tigers' season was cancelled, but it looking ahead to getting back onto the field for the Lions next fall.

"Definitely," Goebel said. "Having like the weird COVID season definitely influenced that I wanted to play, because I was like 'you know what? This can't be it.' I just needed some kind of closure, and I was like, 'no, I want to play in college,' like, I want to take it to the next level."

And Goebel is prepared to go to work and do great things for the Lions.

"Definitely, yeah," Goebel said, "just like work hard, and be there with my team. I'm really excited to be a Lion."

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