When Kristin Grubka joined Florida State, she was a high scoring midfielder from Melbourne High School who led the school to back-to-back 6A titles, and finished with 112 career goals and 54 assists.
Though Grubka was athletically gifted and a three-sport star in high school, Seminoles head coach Mark Kirkorian told Seminole Sports Magazine that he wasn’t sure she was committed to being the best soccer player she could be.
Now, as she leaves Florida State’s women’s soccer program to join the NWSL at the league’s third college draft in Philadelphia, she does so as one of the nation’s top defensive prospects and, most importantly, a national champion.
The heart and leader of Florida State’s impenetrable defense, Grubka guided a backline that ranked second in the nation in goals against average and registered 19 shutouts in 26 games.
Six of those shutouts came during the postseason as the Seminoles claimed their first national title in dominating fashion, not allowing a single goal throughout the NCAA Tournament.
That included blanking a high-powered Virginia team in the title game, holding two-time Hermann Trophy winner and expected No. 1 pick in Cavaliers midfielder Morgan Brian to just one shot.
A national championship was the perfect sendoff for a senior class that brought Florida State to historic heights, finishing an astounding 85-14-5 in four years with three ACC tournament titles, two ACC regular season titles and four consecutive College Cup appearances.
The journey began in 2011, where as a freshman, the Melbourne, Florida native made 12 starts and appeared in all 26 games while registering three goals and three assists.
Eleven of those 12 starts came at the end of the season and proved to be a sign of things to come in 2012, with Grubka starting all 24 games—the only Seminole to play every minute of every game that year.
Florida State’s defense set school records in shutouts (17), goals against average (.62) and fewest goals allowed in ACC play (4) that season while also tying the program’s record for fewest goals allowed in a season with 15.
She also set single-season career-highs in goals (5) and assists (6) to rank third on the team in points with 16.
Her successful sophomore campaign earned Grubka her first invite with the U.S. national team as part of the U-23 squad during the summer.
The national team experience paid off during her junior season. Not only did Florida State reset its record in goals against average at .55, but also reached the National Championship game where it was one win away from bringing the program its first ever National Championship but fell to UCLA, 1-0, in overtime.
It was a heartbreaking end to a dominant season for the Seminoles and for Grubka, who had scored a crucial header goal against Virginia Tech in the semi-final contest.
Grubka again started in all 28 games for the team and was named a first team All-Region by the NSCAA and a second team All-ACC honoree.
After earning a second invite to the U.S. National Team’s U-23 training camp in June, Grubka and the rest of her senior class entered 2014 looking to make amends which they successfully did, finishing as the best team in the nation with a 24-1-1 record.
Florida State also set its school records in shutouts, goals against average (.341) and goals allowed in ACC play (2).
The No. 8 best women’s college soccer player and part of the Best XI first team according to Top Drawer Soccer, the 5-foot-10 defender is projected as a late first, early second round pick ahead of the draft.
Given the success and athleticism she brought to the Seminoles’ defense, her proven ability to score and versatility to play midfield, Grubka should be a strong asset to whatever team decides to select her.
Although it is uncertain where she will be headed in the coming draft, Florida State will certainly have some big shoes to fill.
“With Grubka’s physical presence, her ability in the air, the willingness to tackle, her physical play, I’m not sure there are a whole lot of kids in the world that are going to come out of high school that have those attributes,” Kikorian told Seminole Sports Magazine. “…We’re going to lose a special one.”