Keeping goal with Kitty Qu

The junior on the women’s soccer team talks about the team’s unprecedented success and why she welcomes the pressure of being a goalkeeper.

Qu stands in portrait photo next to goal post on Rhodes Field

The women’s soccer team has a chance to become the undisputed champions of the Ivy League on Saturday, Nov. 3, in a showdown at Princeton. The 13-1-1 Quakers have produced the best record in school history, in large part to their stingy defense. The Red & Blue have only given up four goals all season, and 12 of their 15 games have been shutouts.

Protecting the net for the past three seasons has been goalie Kitty Qu, a junior in the Wharton School from Foster City, Calif. She has recorded a school record 19 career solo shutouts, and is tops in the conference in goals against average (.303), save percentage (.917), and shutouts (9).

Penn Today caught up with Qu on Rhodes Field to chat about her joy in playing goalie, why she welcomes the pressure the position brings, her love of basketball, and handing out red cards.

Qu dives for a save during a game
Photo by Penn Athletics

How long have you been playing soccer? Probably since I was 7. I started playing recreationally locally just for fun, and then got scouted my second year of recreational soccer to go play for a travel team, so that kind of sparked how I got into competitive soccer.

Have you always been a goalie? Pretty much. I used to split time between defense and goalie, but I was always one of the tallest people on my team when I was younger so naturally I got put in goal. I dabbled a little in playing up top at forward throughout club and high school, but goalie has always been my main position.

Being a goalie is a high-pressure position. What do you enjoy about it? I really enjoy the responsibility that comes with being a goalie. I think that it’s extremely cool just in terms of the accountability aspect and how you’re kind of the last line of defense, and I like how you can see the entire field. I think that being a goalie has really helped to develop me as a leader and just for my personal growth.

Qu communicates with teammates during a game
Photo by Penn Athletics

How so? I’ve never been the most outspoken person, I’ll say, but being a goalie kind of forced me to come out of my shell when I younger just because you have to talk at the back, you have to communicate. 

How does it feel to hold the shutout record? Nineteen shutouts is quite the accomplishment. Obviously, it’s an extremely cool individual accomplishment, but what makes it even more special is how successful our team has been doing. We’ve been having a phenomenal overall season, and I think that’s most important.

I hear you’re also a big basketball fan. Yes. Huge.

Who’s your favorite team? The Golden State Warriors.

Really? The Warriors? I’m from the Bay area so obviously I have to rep.

OK, you have a legitimate reason. I’m not a bandwagon fan. I was there when they had their losing seasons, just to clarify.

Qu clears the ball during a game
Photo by Penn Athletics

Who’s your favorite player? Easy, Steph. I mean, would you expect anything less?

I also heard you’re a referee for intramurals. Yes, I work for Penn Rec during the school year. I ref soccer and also scorekeep basketball. It’s extremely fun. It’s interesting to see that whole intramural community also, and the passion they have for the game. The frats get into it. They always bring members of their frat to come and cheer. They have literally people dressing up as coaches and coming in suits. It’s just incredible how much passion they have for the game.

Have you ever carded anybody? Oh yeah, 100 percent. We have some stricter rules in intramurals. There’s no slide tackling allowed. People just kind of go down naturally and you just have to handle that with a card.

A red card? It’s a straight red for a tackle. And they’ll complain, but we reiterate the rules before every game.

Qu poses in goal on Rhodes Field with soccer ball