Libby Stout came to the NWSL in 2016. While this might not be the season of her dreams, she has definitely made her case for being around in season five.
We asked her 10 questions about where she came from and where she is headed.
Backline Soccer (BS): What made you decide to go to Western Kentucky University?
Libby Stout (LS): I already had a decent knowledge of WKU because my older brother was attending the school. On a visit to see him, I asked to meet the soccer coach, Jason Neidell, and he showed me around the campus without knowing who I was. Not long after that he saw me play in a tournament and began recruiting me to Western. I wanted to play for a smaller, up-and-coming D1 program and that’s exactly what WKU was. It was honestly a perfect fit for me and I loved every minute of it.
BS: You set WKU career records for wins, shutouts, goals against average and save percentage, did you go into college aiming to break records or were you more of a game-to-game player who wasn’t looking at the records?
LS: I did not necessarily go into college aiming for records. However, my goal was to earn the starting spot from day one of my freshman year and that’s what I did. I think that mentality and the circumstances put me in a pretty good position to get some of those records. But I never could have achieved individual success without the collective effort of my team and the group of girls I played with throughout my four years. Those records are shared with each player I played next to.
BS: You’ve played professionally in Germany, France, England and now the US, how have the different leagues influenced your style as a goalkeeper?
LS: I have been unbelievably lucky to have experienced some amazing things through soccer. Each league taught me something new and different and helped develop me into a more well-rounded player and person. France stands out because it’s where my professional career started and I began to learn the business side of the sport. I also developed new techniques that I still use today that have made me quicker and more disciplined. Germany was a similar experience–learning different techniques–but England was my favorite. Liverpool was a great experience team-wise. We achieved real success there, winning the league and competing in the Champions League two years in a row. LFC was a really special club to be a member of and I’ll be a forever fan of the Reds.
BS: Why the NWSL and why Boston?
LS: After announcing his decision to leave Liverpool, Matt asked if I’d be interested in following him to Boston. After some deliberation, I decided I was ready to make my way back to the States. I’d always wanted the opportunity to play here, but the league was down the year I graduated from WKU, which lead me overseas. Needless to say I was really excited to come play for the Breakers in the NWSL, and despite a rough season results and injury-wise, I have genuinely enjoyed playing here and look forward to seasons to come.
BS: Coach Beard was your coach in England and in the US for Boston. How is playing under him in two different leagues?
LS: Matt is a fantastic coach and person in general. He’s the same guy! He has had to change a little bit of his personal soccer style to adapt to American soccer, but I think he has a great vision in mind. Every person I know who has played for Matt would do anything for the guy, and I really appreciate him putting his trust in me to bring me here to Boston.
BS: The season has been a bit of a roller-coaster for Boston this year. But there are some pretty big positives with different signings. Have the changes toward the later part of the season brought some excitement back to the locker room?
LS: Definitely. We’ve brought in some real talent through the last couple of months. I think the Olympic break came at a good time for us. We were able to regroup a little bit and focus on things we wanted to improve. We still have room for improvement, but with two games left I’m hoping we can stay consistent with the effort we put in during our last game against Western NY.
BS: The fan support in Boston this year has been really impressive. How is that support affecting the team as a whole and you personally?
LS: The fans in Boston are amazing! We’ve had great crowds every game and it’s just really great to see the support through the city. We always have loads of young girls and boys waiting for autographs and pictures at the end of games. I love the opportunity women’s soccer affords to young people because we are able to personally engage and for me that’s what it’s all about. I want to play professional soccer to help pave a way for girls growing up now and allow them to develop dreams to play in their future.
BS: How has your style of play had to change to adapt to the NWSL?
LS: My style hasn’t changed a whole lot really. One thing for sure though is that I tend to not have as many opportunities to play out from the back, which I would prefer. The league in general tends to press with a high line so I have to kick long goal kicks and punt more often than I would have done in Europe. But other than that it’s still all about keeping the ball out of the net!
BS: What do you look for in defenders? Do you like super-aggressive defenders or do you like when they play a little more conservatively?
LS: I really enjoy players who understand the game and can help communicate and organize, who have good positional awareness, and who aren’t afraid to get into a tackle. That’s pretty standard for any player on the field, but I like a defender to have a combination of both aggressive and conservative play. It’s important to use both of those characteristics when it’s appropriate. The trick is just discerning which one to exercise during a given situation, which comes through instinct and experience.
BS: Best attacking player you’ve played against in any league?
LS: I’ll say my most enjoyable opponent has been Lindsay Horan. I played against her in France and now in the NWSL. She’s a savvy and deceptive finisher and I enjoy the challenge that she imposes.