Bobcat senior Vaudt extends soccer career with Simpson College

The friendly smack talk between Marshalltown High School seniors Taylor Vaudt and Morgan Gardalen began shortly after Vaudt told Gardalen that a coach from Simpson College was coming to watch her play on the soccer pitch.

Gardalen decided before the start of the 2014 season that she was headed to Central College and Vaudt chose one of the Dutch’s biggest rivals last week when she agreed verbally to play for the Storm.

And with Vaudt potentially remaining in her sweeper position in college and Gardalen playing up front in a goal scorer spot, the two Bobcat teammates will surely face off against each other at the next level.

That should make for a fun four years for both players.

“After I told Morgan that the Simpson coach was coming to watch me play, she said, ‘ooh, we’re going to be rivals next year,'” said Vaudt, who also graduated in the top 15 percent of her class academically and is a member of the National Honor Society. “It’ll be a friendly rivalry, but I am just glad I will be able to see her at least once a year.”

Vaudt doesn’t play the most glamorous position on the pitch. She doesn’t get mentioned in the scoring summary of many box scores.

Her job is to stop the opposition from scoring. It took her a little bit of time for Vaudt to accept the role that Marshalltown coach Allie Osmundson gave to her after her sophomore year, but she eventually embraced her role as sweeper and it may have helped her extend her career to the collegiate level.

“I moved her to sweeper at the beginning of her junior year and she kept us in a lot of games,” said Osmundson. “We were getting scored on a lot so I moved her back there to help us defensively.

“At first, she didn’t necessarily like being back there because it’s not the glamour position. But eventually she embraced the role, and she is a great fit for the position. She understands the game and can play whatever position we need her to play.”

Vaudt’s ability to understand the game is one of the things that attracted Simpson College coach Ryan Sander to her. The relationship between Sander and Vaudt started because another coach – Rob Chapman – in the Central Iowa Metropolitan League saw the Bobcat senior play against his West Des Moines Valley Tigers.

“She is a smart player and is obviously athletic,” said Sander, who is in his fifth year as Storm coach following a previous stint at Waukee High School. “I asked her some questions on the phone and you could tell she has a high soccer IQ. She commands the back line and her versatility will help her find the field faster.”

Vaudt played center midfield before Osmundson moved her to defense. She also played goalie once in AAU ball. Where she plays in college is still up in the air though.

“We need goal scorers, but we also are thin on defense,” said Sander, who watched Vaudt and the Bobcats take on Urbandale earlier this season. “We’ll see where she fits. We were forced to use five different formations last year so it just depends on where we need her at the most.”

Sander’s Storm battled several injuries last year and went 4-16-1. He lost two forwards to torn ACLs and ended up with just 12 healthy players at the end of the year after starting with 24.

Vaudt also drew some interest from Wartburg College and Morningside College but ultimately picked the Storm because “it just felt right.”

“I liked the campus and the coaches made me feel welcome right away,” said Vaudt, who also played four years on the MHS volleyball team and one year of high school basketball.

Vaudt, who graduated with honors last weekend and received several academic scholarships through Simpson, will study athletic training or focus her attention on a career in management.

“I want to deal with sports and not sit behind a desk when I get done with school,” she said.