Kate Dannemiller ’21 scored just one goal as a first-year, but it was a memorable one: a 35-yard free kick in Denison’s final 2017 home game to clinch a 2-0 victory over Ohio Wesleyan on Senior Night. “My first goal, and being able to give back to the seniors, that was really meaningful for me,” she says. The goal highlighted one of Dannemiller’s most valuable on-field skills: the combination of touch, accuracy, and leg strength that make her the Big Red’s first choice on free kicks. As a defender, the junior from Bay Village, Ohio, doesn’t get many scoring chances, but her ability to set up teammates in the goal box or, as against Wesleyan, knock one in from a distance herself make her a vital part of the Denison attack. Here, she shares the secrets to turning a dead ball into a celebration with one swing of her leg.
The Spot: Dannemiller, who can put the ball into the goal box from about 45 yards out, references the geography of the football field to explain her ball placement: “…where the hashmarks would be, at a little bit of an angle instead of in the middle of the field.”
The Target: If she’s close enough, Dannemiller might try to lob (or blast) one into the far corner of the net. More likely, she’ll send it in that direction, but intentionally short—between the goalkeeper and the defenders—where she hopes to find the head or foot of a teammate. The goal, she says, is to “make that ball as dangerous
The Plan: Often, there’s not much of one. “Coach says our team is so creative that if we try to run set plays on free kicks, it takes away some of that creativity.”
The Payoff: “I think an assist is just as meaningful as a goal,” Dannemiller says of her mindset when lining up a kick. As tempting as it is for a defender to aim for the back of the net when she has that rare opportunity, “I’m always happy to set someone up.”