NASHVILLE – Even now that she has graduated, former women’s soccer goalkeeper Anna Buhigas continues to haul in accolades for the Bisons as she became the first athlete in program history to sign a contract to play professionally.
The Ohio native signed with AGSM Verona CF, commonly referred to as Verona, who compete in Serie A, the highest level of women’s soccer in Italy.
Verona has participated in the UEFA Women’s Champions League each of the past two seasons against the best club competition from across Europe.
“I'm excited to play with world class athletes,” Buhigas said. “This club is very established and has won many championships within the past 20 years. The roster is filled with many European national team players, so I'm just excited to train and play in such a high level environment and live in a beautiful city.”
Buhigas left Lipscomb as not only as the most decorated goalkeeper in program history, but as the most successful one in ASUN history as well, compiling an impressive resume during her four years in the Purple and Gold.
“What did she mean to the program? It's hard to put that into a sentence because she meant a lot,” Lipscomb women’s soccer goalkeeping coach Shannon O’Brien said. “She came in as a freshman goalkeeper and played every minute of every game and didn't look back.”
She became the first person in ASUN history to win three consecutive Goalkeeper of the Year awards, earned All-Conference honors all four years in the net, and was named ASUN Defensive Player of the Week four times.
She also re-wrote the Lipscomb record book, posting new program-best marks for shutouts, goals against average, save percentage, wins, games played, and minutes played.
Buhigas accomplished all this while minding the net during the most successful four-year stretch in program history as the Bisons made back-to-back ASUN Championship games in her junior and senior years as she captained the league’s stingiest defense.
“Every girl that has come through this program has mattered to us, whether they were a part of a winning season or not,” O’Brien said. “We see each of them as a valuable human, and we're grateful for them. I think, uniquely in the soccer role for Anna, she was a part of an important class. OB (women’s soccer head coach Kevin O’Brien) needed some key players that were going to be in some key roles that could buy in to his vision.”
O’Brien, herself a professional goalkeeper for a period, helped instill in Buhigas her “old-school” goalkeeping creed: confidence, concentration, and courage. Because goalkeepers can feel marooned out on an island by themselves oftentimes, it is encouraging to have someone else who understands how the position works.
“For me, a big aspect of my coaching style is to help breathe encouragement into them because it's hard enough as a goalkeeper,” O’Brien said. “You’re the hero or the goat. If I have a goalkeeper that’s playing confidently, regardless of the mechanics of the diving or the intricacies of technique, chances are their courage is going to increase because they’re confident.”
Buhigas’s time at Lipscomb affected her deeply, both on and off the field.
“As a player I gained confidence over my four years. I improved a lot in every aspect of my game being able to train with Shannon every day.
“I accepted Christ into my life during my four years, so as a person I have completely changed. I'm extremely thankful for every opportunity I am given, and I'm much more positive.”