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Sarah Fuller makes football history

Article Written by J.R. Eskilson
Published: November 28, 2020

Vanderbilt goalkeeper Sarah Fuller became the first woman to play in a Power 5 conference football game on Saturday. Fuller, a senior, had her first action in the game on the kick-off for the second half of the game. 

Fuller is the starting goalkeeper on the Vanderbilt team, which won the SEC Championship last week. She made three saves in the win over Arkansas. She went 7-2 in goal during her senior campaign with a 0.965 GAA. 

Fuller was planning to head home for Thanksgiving break after the soccer season, according to the broadcasters during the football game. However, the Vanderbilt football team was looking for some help after COVID protocols forced most of the specialist (punters, place kickers, etc.) on the team to sit out the game against Missouri. Fuller practiced with the football team during the week, and the coach was impressed with what he saw from the goalkeeper. 

“She’s got a strong leg,” Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason told reporters during the weekly conference call before the game. “She seems to be a pretty good option.” 

The Vanderbilt football team is struggling this season with an 0-8 record, and Saturday was no different. Fuller was left on the sidelines for most of the game as Vanderbilt’s offense only managed to cross midfield once during the opening stanza. 

The history-making moment came to start the second half when she kicked off for Vanderbilt. Her only chance to take the field in the lopsided victory for Missouri.  

"I was trying to stay calm," Fuller told ESPN after the game about her time on the field. "The SEC Championship was more stressful."

Fuller is the first woman to play in the Power-5 conference, and the first woman to suit up in an SEC football game. Fuller is following in the footsteps of Katie Hnida and April Goss, who both previously kicked at the Football Bowl Subdivision level. Hnida played for New Mexico. Goss kicked for Kent State.

"I just want to say to the girls out there that you can do anything you set your mind to," Fuller said.  

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