Sports Q&A with York College men's soccer goalie Brady Bixler
The Spartans' senior goalie and Eastern York graduate discusses playing the position and his Division III career.
It’s been a hectic four years for York College men’s soccer goalie Brady Bixler.
After playing sparingly as a freshman, Bixler’s sophomore season with the Spartans was completely wiped out by the pandemic. Returning as a junior last season, Bixler split time in goal with two of his teammates, posting a 4-5-2 record and two shutouts in 11 starts.
Now a senior, the Eastern York graduate has been making his mark as the protector of the goal this season for the Spartans, who are 5-3-2 overall and 0-1 in the MAC Commonwealth.
We caught up recently with Bixler, who is 3-3-2 this season with a shutout and a 1.13 goals-against average, to discuss his soccer career.
Question: Let’s start with the picture. It looks like the other guys in the picture are in awe that you can either fly or levitate.
Answer: “I think that was a well-timed picture.”
Q: Has Coach (Matt) Hunter asked you to join the basketball team?
A: “I did play basketball in high school. And if I had time to play two (sports), that would be nice.”
Q: What has your career been like since you started playing at York College? I know the pandemic wiped out a year, so that must have been tough.
A: “My freshman year, there were three other keepers and they were all ahead of me. I was like the fourth [string]. And it was interesting that year because all four of us got injured. I actually broke my foot freshman year, so I have a screw in my foot. So I think I only played 10 minutes my freshman year.”
Q: Did you get hurt during a game?
A: “No, it was during practice. Then my sophomore year was wiped out, but last year, my junior year, was when I actually started to progress and play a bit more. So my junior year was my first go at playing in a college game, really.”
Q: So, you are a senior but really have only played two years? Are you thinking about taking the fifth-year exception that the NCAA granted?
A: “I would like to play, but I’m probably not going to take a fifth year just because of the cost, honestly.”
Q: What is one or two highlights in your career so far?
A: “The one that I look at was our game against Rochester last year. That was an all-around, phenomenal team effort. We were going against them and I think they were ranked No. 6 nationally. We went in and, around halftime, one of my teammates got a red card, so we were playing down a man against this phenomenal team. And we walked away with a tie, which, to be honest, felt like a win right there.”
Q: Didn’t you set a program record for saves in that game?
A: “Almost. I believe Rochester had 15 shots on goal that game and I had 13 saves, which put me second behind Billy Bridegum for most saves in a game, which was pretty cool.”
Q: As a goalie, how much of the goals-against do you have control over and how much of it is a reflection on the team and defense?
Bixler: “I think it goes hand in hand. There are times where, if you want to point fingers, it’s completely on the goalkeeper and there are other times where it’s on other people. One of the sayings that my club coach would use to tell me when I was younger − and I knew if I made a mistake that it was on me − but he would say it had to get through 10 other players before it got to you. So, it is a team thing, but there are other factors. Like over the weekend, we lost to Widener [by 3-1 score] and the first goal they scored, I didn’t have my footing down correctly and that one was on me. I would say that’s one that I should have had.”
Q: But goalie stats are pretty much yours, right?
A: “Yeah, but the funny thing about that is that last year our goals-against average was 1.67, and the reason I know that is because whenever the goalkeepers had to do a punishment, it was 167 repetitions of the punishment because that was what the stat was. So, we’re all trying to get that number lower, definitely.”
Q: Anything else you wanted to mention?
A: “Yeah, we actually try to do a lot of team bonding even with simple things. Our captains, they try to organize team dinners and they make the meal and all of that just so we can all get together and talk and build that camaraderie, and I think that helps build an identity for the team. Last year [after a year off due to the pandemic] we were just kind of playing as 11 individual guys, but this season we have a sense of togetherness and playing with that team identity, and I think that plays a huge role for us.”