Julianna Anastopoulos inspires Varsity Soccer team through leadership

Shouts echo across the field. A whistle blows. The checkered ball flies across the field in a blur of black and white. The players swirl around the field, frantically trying to keep the ball in their possession. Amidst the chaos, one girl has the final power to prevent the opposing team from scoring: the goalkeeper.

Julianna Anastopoulos has been the goalkeeper for the girls varsity soccer team since her sophomore year, and has been playing the sport since she was in kindergarten. She says that she originally started playing soccer after her older brother did.

Rob Sprague, who just retired from his role as head coach of the girls varsity team, has coached Anastopoulos for four years. He said that her hard work has paid off and praises her talent.

“As a soccer player, she is one of the best we have ever had at Brookline High School,” Sprague said. “She is very accomplished and highly skilled.”

Gianna Pentland, Anastopoulos’s friend and teammate, has been playing with her for three years. She said she agrees with Sprague that Anastopoulos is highly skilled.

“She’s the best player on our team, even though she’s a goalie. If you needed her to play forward, she could go and score two goals. She’s just amazing,” Pentland said.

Pentland also said that Anastopoulos can handle a tough opponent and can come in clutch when it comes to games.
“In practice, when we were shooting on her, I thought that that was hard for her, but in games she made it look so easy,” Pentland said.

In addition to being a skilled player and goalie, Pentland said that Anastopoulos is an inspiration and anchor for the team.

“Julianna is our rock, our leader. She’s crazy and funny, but she’s also serious and down to business,” Pentland said.
Sprague said that Anastopoulos’s personality has generally uplifted the team.

“I looked forward to going to the girls soccer practice because Juliana was going to be there and she was going to bring this enthusiasm and excitement,” Sprague said. “I know it impacted me and I’m really on the outside, coaching. I know it had a big impact on her teammates.”

Though Anastopoulos’s enthusiasm for the sport is real, she admitted that being a goalie can put pressure on her to hold up the team.

“I would say that being a goalkeeper comes with a lot of pressure and that it’s something you have to be ready to deal with,” Anastopoulos said. “Even if I am not having my best game or day, the rest of the team is relying on me to be composed because my energy rolls on to them.”

Sprague says that Anastopoulos has a firm dedication to the sport.

“She loves to practice,” Sprague said, “which I think has really made a big difference in terms of her skill development. The harder the practices, the happier she is. If she’s scraped up and bruised and maybe even bleeding from the knees or elbows, that’ll be her favorite practice. That is when she is most happy.”

Sprague also shared a story highlighting Julianna’s early dedication to the sport. According to him, when Anastopoulos was in grade school, she joined a soccer camp designed for girls a few years older than she was at the time.

“She had that self-confidence about her,” Sprague said. “It was just really something to see. And I remember at that point, knowing that she was kind of special.”

Anastopoulos is a senior, and will be attending St. Michael’s College next fall where she will be playing Division ll soccer. Sprague has high hopes for Anastopoulos’s future.

“I would expect that she would have an immediate impact,” Sprague said. “Not only will she play well but I think she’s going to take whatever team she’s on to the next level.”