Titan alumna making waves on the field

In Sports
Former CSUF goalkeeper Karen Bardsley holds numerous Titan career records. Photo Courtesy Mattbrown.com

Former Titan goalkeeper Karen Bardsley currently plays for the New Jersey Sky Blue FC in the Women’s Professional Soccer league and women’s England National Team.

Bardsley was born in Santa Monica, Calif., but grew up in Chino Hills, Calif., and began playing soccer at 5 years old for the American Youth Soccer Organization.

At 11 years old, she played club for the Chino Hills Nightmares for four years and moved to the So Cal Blues when she was 17.

Bardsley – who holds numerous school records – played for Cal State Fullerton from 2002-06 and lettered all four years.

In 2002, she was named the Big West Conference Freshman of the Year because of her 88 saves (.846 save percentage) and her three shutouts.

“Coming in as a freshman, we were expected to do the same and take over the Big West Conference, which we really failed to do until about 2005,” Bardsley said.

For Bardsley, the honors piled up during her freshman year.

Bardsley was also named to the Soccer Buzz Freshman All-American second team, All-West Region second team, West Region All-Freshman team and the All-Big West second team.

“The team always kept improving with extremely driven players,” Bardsley said.

In 2003, she was asked to play with the England women’s under-19 national team in the European Championship.

Even though she was born in the United States, her parents emigrated from England and she went on to play for the England under-21 women’s national soccer team.

“It was great that my family back in England got to see me play,” Bardsley said. “I remember when we were playing against Germany in Germany, and then I had to fly to Portland to play with CSUF the next day.”

Bardsley’s sophomore season was interrupted – after playing only 28 minutes in the season – due to a broken leg against the University of Washington in the second half at the Portland Nike Invitational.

Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Karen Bardsley once suffered a broken leg at CSUF, but she made a full recovery and returned proudly. Photo Courtesy Howard C. Smith.

“That changed a lot of things for me and that pretty much ended my season,” Bardsley said. “2004 came around, I hit some speed bumps and roadblocks in my rehab, which made my time off due to injury longer than expected, but then I came back and played about halfway through the season and I was still able to pick up the rhythm again.”

In her third season, Bardsley came back as a redshirt sophomore and it seemed like nothing had ever changed.

Bardsley was named Big West Conference Goalkeeper of the Year and an All-Big West First Team honoree, even though she missed the first eight games of the season while recovering from her broken leg.

In the 2004 season, Bardsley had a total of five shutouts that season and a 0.71 save percentage.

Coaches and teammates all noticed Bardsley’s improvement as a player, which helped set an example for teammates.

“Karen’s game has only improved over the years and it was an honor to play with her at CSUF,” said former teammate Erica Pryor, current assistant coach for Soka University of America. “She made me want to be a better player.”

In 2005, as a redshirt junior, Bardsley also set single-season CSUF records for goals against average (.64), shutouts (10) and tied the mark for most minutes played in a season (1,820).

“Every time we stepped out onto the field, we knew what we were going to get and it was a great team to play with. We blew the Big West away that year,” Bardsley said.

She was named the Big West Goalkeeper of the Year after having 16-4 overall record.

In her senior year, she was playing with virtually a new squad, but still managed to play to the best of her ability and was named Big West Conference Goalkeeper of the Year for the third consecutive year.

“Karen had a phenomenal career and much of the success in 2005 and 2006 was definitely related to her contributions to the team,” said former CSUF women’s soccer Head Coach Ali Khosroshahin, who is currently the USC women’s soccer head coach.

Bardsley holds many records at CSUF, not only for a single-season record, but for collegiate career totals in victories (47), goals-against average (0.84), saves (312) and minutes played (6,395).

She ended her Titan career in 2006 and left behind a list of all-time records that still stand to this day.

Bardsley’s career did not end at CSUF, but continued to expand.

In March 2009, Bardsley shut out Northern Ireland 4-0 in the Algarve Cup.

Her success in the Algarve cup added to the long list of reasons to be drafted to the WPS.

Bardsley was drafted as the 18th overall pick to the Sky Blue FC in 2009, where she only made four starts and later that same year her team went on to become the WPS champions.

Bardsley started the 2010 season opener for the defending champion Sky Blue FC with a 1-0 shutout over the Chicago Red Stars on April 11.

“My main goal is the World Cup for England and hopefully the Olympics,” Bardsley said. “Everyone wants to play on the world’s stage at the highest level possible, and that’s what the World Cup is.”

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