At first glance, Julie Harris' weekend didn't seem to make much sense.
Friday night against the then-No. 8 Stanford women's soccer team, the Virginia goalkeeper faced three shots in the first half and took a shutout into intermission. Sunday afternoon, her first-half numbers were identical against then-No. 5 Hartford. And in each game, Harris got pulled at halftime.
So why bench a third-year keeper with a 1.21 goals-against-average and a 0.70 save percentage? That move becomes possible when the backup is a fourth year with two first-team All-ACC selections to her name.
Against the Cardinal and the Hawks, Megan Boehm took Harris' place in the second half. She allowed three goals in her 90 minutes of work, but that wasn't too bad for someone who had played in only one previous game this season.
Not long ago, Boehm was the clear-cut starting keeper, but a combination of injury and inconsistency gave Harris the opening she needed to claim the starting job. Now, as the surging No. 8 Cavaliers (6-2-0, 2-0-0 ACC) prepare to host Maryland tonight at 7:30, coach April Heinrichs has decided on a two-headed platoon in net.
"As it is right now, we're pleased with both of them," Heinrichs said. "I like the way they have shared the responsibility and I think they like it. So we'll go with it. I don't see the sense in sitting one of them."
At this point last season, the decision was easy. Boehm was still recovering from offseason appendicitis surgery, so Harris, then a second year without a minute of collegiate experience, became the opening day starter. She compiled an 8-3-2 record and a 1.70 GAA while starting in the season's first 14 games.
Then Boehm, who had seen scattered minutes in three games as she worked back into form, made a triumphant return to the starting lineup. In her first game back as the headliner, Boehm blanked nationally-ranked Clemson, 1-0. She upset the Tigers almost single-handedly, consistently thwarting onrushing attackers to seal the win.
But as her mediocre 5-3-2 record last year suggests, Boehm's occasional brilliance was tempered by frustrating bouts of inconsistency. She had more experience and accolades than Harris, but neither had any preconceived notions about the 1999 season.
"We didn't really know what to expect," Harris said. "It all depends upon how you come in and it obviously depended on both of our performances."
Harris won the job in the spring, but was one of many Cavaliers who spent the summer abroad, and as the offseason drew to a close, Boehm pulled even.
Before Virginia's lone preseason scrimmage, a week before the season opener, the good news for Heinrichs was she did not have to pick one keeper over the other. The bad news was she could not pick either. Third-stringer Ashley Mowery manned the pipes in an 8-0 exhibition win against Virginia Commonwealth because Harris and Boehm had not passed the team-wide preseason fitness test.
Harris qualified in time to start the Cavs' season-opening 2-0 loss at Oregon State. After the second game, Heinrichs reinstated Boehm as well, but stuck with the less-experienced, less-decorated Harris as her starter. It wasn't until the sixth game that Boehm made her 1999 debut, holding N.C. State scoreless for the final 29 minutes of Virginia's 3-1 road win.
The Stanford and Hartford contests provided Boehm with further playing time and even a bit of footage for her personal highlight reel. With the Hawks frantically pressing for the tying score, Boehm snuffed a wild goalmouth scramble in the final minute to seal the Cavs' fifth straight victory.
"For me, it's just nice to get some time in and get my confidence up," Boehm said. "But Jules is doing well. She had a shutout this weekend in her two halves, so I couldn't be more happy for her. She's earned the spot and she's holding on to it."
Harris "played better than I did in the preseason and she's been doing a lot better than I have in practice lately. She's getting what she deserves," she said.
Harris' emergence has relegated Boehm to part-time duty in her final collegiate season, but the fourth year said her seniority and impending departure should not influence her role.
"Not at all," Boehm said. "If I'm not the one that's going to get the job done in there, then by all means, send somebody in who can."
Heinrichs said she has faith that both keepers can do the job for Virginia, though they get it done differently. Boehm is a known commodity in college soccer, an imposing 5-foot-11 keeper who is not afraid to take a risk or two if she can cut down an attacker's angle or abort a scoring chance. Her mere physical presence can deter opponents from the zealous pursuit of a cross or a corner kick. At 5-foot-10, Harris has Boehm-like size, but is still working on fashioning a similar reputation.
"Megan has greater presence in the air, on the flight of balls, on shot stopping," Heinrichs said. "She gives us the ability to punt long and play balls long. Julie brings us a consistency and a work ethic in practice every single day, a playing-with-injury mentality. She's there whenever we need her."
Harris will start in net tonight against the Terrapins (3-5-1, 1-0-1) -- who knocked off the Cavaliers in overtime last year -- but she knows she will have to stay sharp to keep her platoon partner from reassuming the starting role.
"I'm going to try to hold on to my spot as long as I can," Harris said. "If Megan wants to fight me for it, we're great friends and there's no harm done in that"