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Kiera Sarka Overcomes Battle with Blood Clots, Now Dominating on the Field

Kiera Sarka | Photo by Bethany Althauser | The Wright State Guardian

After having a delayed start to her collegiate soccer career, senior Kiera Sarka of the Wright State University women’s soccer team has battled through issues with blood clots to become one of the best Division 1 goalkeepers in the nation. 

How it all started

Sarka’s story as a goalkeeper began in an interesting manner. After playing in the forward and outside back positions through most of her early childhood, Sarka was suddenly moved to the goalkeeper position. 

“[The coaches] threw me in for a tournament game,” Sarka mentioned on her position change. “I ended up falling over and saving a ball. From there, they were like, ‘Well, yeah, you’re the new goalie.’”

In Sarka’s sophomore year of high school, she decided to chase her dreams in playing Division 1 soccer. 

“It had always been a goal of mine. I really started aiming for college my sophomore year of high school,” Sarka added. 

Although Sarka had been looking at schools farther south, she ultimately found herself at Wright State with the help of her club coach. 

Running into problems

Prior to coming to WSU, Sarka began experiencing issues with blood clots in the spring of her senior year. This—along with the COVID-19 pandemic—prompted a very stressful period for Sarka. 

“I was a little nervous,” Sarka stated. “My friends had gotten injured that same year and lost their scholarships for college because coaches didn’t want someone who was coming in hurt.” 

It was during Sarka’s freshman year of college that she needed to find a way to stay involved with the team despite not being able to play. 

“My freshman year, it was more like doing what I could for the team because there was no sight of me playing from my doctor’s point of view,” Sarka added. “It was really hard for me because I grew up playing every minute in every game.” 

Sarka as a motivational force

Erin Baker is a junior goalkeeper at WSU. She is the backup to Sarka and has high remarks for Sarka’s leadership and presence on the team. 

“It motivates me watching her do well, it makes me want to play really well for the team and continue doing what she’s doing,” Baker mentioned. 

During Sarka’s sophomore year, she had people in her ear questioning whether returning or not was best for her future. Despite hearing these remarks, Sarka remained true to the process and kept grinding to get what she set out to achieve.

“I had people tell me ‘Are you really gonna go back? Like, is it worth it? Is that safe?’ This was my childhood dream,” Sarka stated. “I have to do it.” 

The comeback

In Sarka’s junior year, she was medically cleared to get back on the field. It was during this time that she worked hard and grinded for the season she is currently producing.

After being sidelined for most of her collegiate career, Sarka is now the starting goalkeeper for WSU and has been making up for lost time. Last week, Sarka was named the Horizon League defensive player of the week for the second time in three weeks.

To this point in the season, Sarka has recorded 78 saves for the Raiders. She is tied for the 19th most saves in all of Division 1 soccer as it currently stands. 

This season has been an example that good things come to those who wait. 

“I’ve worked since I was a little girl to be here. I like making people proud, and I like making myself proud,” Sarka mentioned. “I’ve done that this year.” 

Sarka’s second HL award of the season served as a ‘thank you’ to those around her that continued to believe in her and rally behind her. 

“It means the world to me to be able to work as hard as I am, finally, and work for my teammates, my coaches, because they’ve really stuck with me for four years now. They never gave up on me,” Sarka added. 

The Raiders currently sit at 4-2-1 in the HL, good for fourth place with plenty of time to make a push for the title. Their next game is on Oct. 15 at Purdue Fort Wayne at 1 p.m.

Adam Campbell

Sports Reporter

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