Golden Glove winner has big goals with Colorado Mesa
By Nick Flores/NPSL.com
Connor Durant had quite the ride during the 2022 NPSL season. Not only did his side top the Lone Star Conference and make a run to the regional semifinals, but he also was awarded the Golden Glove award for his efforts throughout the season.
Durant was no stranger to a clean sheet as he kept nine for his club over the summer while also only allowing eight goals to go past him. Having won the NPSL’s Golden Glove award, Durant was thrilled to be able to help his team in any way possible.
“It feels great,” Durant said. “A lot has to do with the team, the organization and my family getting the word out and voting. The season we had as a team also helps this award go along. When you have a season like we did with all the clean sheets and the defensive work we put in, it makes it easier to get an award like this. It feels good. I’m glad I could keep Laredo’s name going on throughout the season even though we weren’t able to keep playing.”
Durant was a huge part of the success that the Laredo Heat was able to achieve this season, and now he’s continuing his form at the collegiate level for Colorado Mesa University. The redshirt senior is Colorado Mesa’s number one between the sticks and rightfully so. His performances over the summer have motivated him to carry that momentum into his collegiate season.
Now that the NPSL season is well over a month behind us, Durant has had time to properly reflect on just how great of a season he and the Heat had.
“Once the season was over and I was getting back to the college season it was kind of hard to sit back and be able to look at it,” Durant said. “Over the last few weeks once I was back home I was able to sit back and it was just a great experience. Winning the award, it’s a great feeling to be voted for by the NPSL and all the fans. The experience I had with the club all the way from the team to the ownership, the public relations workers, I think Laredo Heat is one of the top organized clubs in the NPSL. It motivates you to play for a club like that when you realize how much they care for the club and how much they all put in.”
Durant couldn’t be taken out of Laredo for too long as the second game of his collegiate season was a homecoming for him and fellow Heat and Colorado Mesa teammates Colton Shafer and Daisuke Takanaka. Colorado Mesa faced the Texas A&M International University Dustdevils on August 27 where Durant would do what he does best – keep a clean sheet – and helped his team to a 1-0 victory.
“Right when we got there Rishi Vaswani (Assistant GM) and Edith Ortiz (Marketing Director) were there to see us in and give me the award and jersey,” Durant said. “Even once we’re done and not playing there anymore they still want to see you and treat you as part of the family. To have that is a pretty cool feeling. Being back in Laredo felt like being back home honestly, it was like I never left. It was great being back.”
After picking up a victory back in his home away from home, Durant feels that the win over TAMIU as well as the success he and the Heat saw in the summer will help push him to greater heights this fall. So far Durant has one clean sheet and has conceded 10 goals over seven games for Colorado Mesa and he and his team’s performances are sure to further improve.
“Just going off of this season and seeing what we did, I think it built a lot of confidence in all three of us (Durant, Shafer, and Takanaka),” Durant said. “A lot of the time if you don’t get to play in the summer you can definitely train on your own but it’s not the same as playing true 11v11 games against great opponents. Every game we played was a battle so taking that summer into the college game I think it built a lot of confidence in us.”
That confidence gained over the summer is driving Durant to help his team achieve the goals they have set out for themselves and so far, things are going well.
“We were able to win our league tournament last year, that’s definitely on the radar to win that back to back,” Durant said. “We’d like to win the regular season conference as well. We have high aspirations in the team here at Mesa so our eyes are all on that national championship. To bring that home to Mesa, it would be the first team national championship in program history at the school so it would be a great accomplishment. We got a lot of work to get there, and we have to make a lot of sacrifices to get there but that’s the ultimate goal.”
Durant solidified himself as the top goalkeeper in the NPSL over the summer so it would come as no surprise if his team were able to go on and reach all of their goals this season with him in net. The Golden Glove winner will see out the rest of his collegiate season with an extra bit of confidence following the summer season and it’s well-warranted.
When you’re the best goalkeeper in the NPSL, it’s only right you back yourself.
Photo Credit: Laredo Heat SC