Located on an isthmus between two lakes, Madison, Wis., is a beautiful city and one of America’s great college communities.
Madison is home, of course, to the University of Wisconsin, but as Victoria Fortney of Geneva is happy to point out, it’s also home to another fine institution – Edgewood College.
Fortney is in the midst of her junior year at Edgewood, where she is a standout goalkeeper for the Eagles’ women’s soccer team. Last week, she was named first team all-conference in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC).
“That was really cool,” says Fortney, who learned of the honor from an unlikely source. “My mom actually texted me. She looks at all the [web]sites all the time. … She’s really involved in my soccer career, which is awesome.”
Awesome is a good word to describe the stats Fortney piled up this season. She posted a 0.71 goals-against average and a .871 saves percentage. For comparison, Edgewood’s opponents had a 2.1 goals-against average against the Eagles and a .701 saves percentage.
With those kinds of numbers working in their favor, it’s no surprise the Eagles had a successful season, finishing 15-4-1. A highlight of the campaign was a 1-0 victory over conference rival Aurora University in early October, part of a 13-game winning streak for Edgewood.
However, the Spartans (18-2) avenged the defeat with a second-half goal in last Saturday’s NACC championship match to advance to the NCAA Division III national tournament.
“We played real well in the first half,” Fortney says. “We put a lot of pressure on them and had a lot of great scoring opportunities. Right away in the second half, they came out hot and we didn’t.” Less than two minutes into the second half, Fortney made a tough save on a free kick, but the ball caromed off the crossbar and went right to Aurora's Brittany Roydhouse, who knocked it in from virtually point-blank range.
“We weren’t able, unfortunately, to get another goal,” Fortney says. “Overall, I’m happy we made it as far as we did.”
Fortney also earned all-conference honors in net at Geneva High School her senior year, helping the Vikings post eight shutouts during the season. She received a scholarship offer from NCAA Division-II Illinois-Springfield, but she had her heart set on attending college in Madison.
“I really like the area a lot and it’s not too far away from home,” she explains. “I was familiar with Madison. I always wanted to go to Madison.”
She took a look at UW, with its enrollment of more than 40,000, but preferred Edgewood, home to about 2,500 students.
“I liked the campus,” Fortney says. “I liked that it was a small school, but it was still in Madison. … I knew I really wanted to play soccer. I really liked the coach and it helped that I knew a girl who was on the team.”
That was Neuqua Valley graduate Zenaida Cordova, with whom Fortney played club soccer. Fortney was a back-up goalkeeper her freshman year at Edgewood, but she did get a start against Beloit College and earned her first college victory in the process. She also started her sophomore year on the bench, but became the starter in net during the second half of the season. She compiled a 5-3-1 record with a pair of shutouts.
Fortney’s presence in goal was a big reason the Eagles were able to post a 10-1 record in the NACC this season, giving them the league’s regular-season title.
“We hadn’t won conference in like eight years, so that was a pretty big achievement,” Fortney said. “I was pretty happy with the season we had. We had some freshmen come in and they stepped it up.”
Fortney is a nursing major, and she hopes to become a registered nurse, possibly specializing in pediatrics. She also hopes to continue her association with soccer when her college days are done.
During the spring, she and a teammate help coach freshman soccer players at Madison West High School.
“I definitely know I want to keep playing soccer as long as I can,” Fortney says. “I’ll always have a passion for the sport.”
And a soft spot for the city of Madison.
• Dennis D. Jacobs writes the On Campus column for the Kane County Chronicle. To suggest local athletes deserving recognition, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.