Sports

Auburn's Learned named captain of Navy's soccer team

Kelsey Learned is the third straight defender to be voted Navy captain after 2010 captain Jessica Grupp and Herren, who like Learned is from Auburn. - Courtesy photo/Navy Sports Information staff
Kelsey Learned is the third straight defender to be voted Navy captain after 2010 captain Jessica Grupp and Herren, who like Learned is from Auburn.
— image credit: Courtesy photo/Navy Sports Information staff

By Navysports.com
For the Auburn Reporter

Auburn's Kelsey Learned, a 5-foot-8 senior defender for the U.S. Naval Academy's soccer team, was selected captain for the fall season.

Leaned, a 2009 Thomas Jefferson graduate, succeeds 2012 Navy graduate Kate Herren – a 2007 Auburn Mountainview grad and one of the Midshipmen's stout defenders – in donning the captain's armband. Learned is the third straight defender to be voted captain after Herren and 2010 captain Jessica Grupp.

Learned and her teammates recently reported for preseason camp.

Navy opens its season against Maryland on Aug. 17 in Annapolis, Md.

"I'm really excited about this season and we have a great group of girls," Learned said. "It felt great knowing that my squad voted me as the team captain and I feel like I have a responsibility to give as much back as I can to this team."

Learned recently attended the inaugural Naval Academy Team Captain Encounter in Gettysburg, Pa., along with the rest of the Academy's team captains for the upcoming academic year.

"The Gettysburg trip was a lot of fun and I learned a lot from the rest of our school's captains," Learned said of the two-day trip. "It was a conference of great minds and Gettysburg was a great setting to have it at. We had a fantastic staff that gave us input and challenged our ideas and it was a great learning experience."

Learned played just seven games in 2011 due to an injury, but she is healthy entering preseason camp.

Learned started 30 games in her first two seasons at Navy and led the team in minutes played as a sophomore in 2010.

In 2009, Learned was named to the Patriot League All-Tournament Team after playing a solid 96 minutes of defense in the Navy's overtime loss at Colgate in the league semifinals.

The central defender started every Patriot League regular season contest during her first two seasons at Navy and scored two goals as a freshman and also had two goals as a sophomore. She has played in 46 career games at Navy, the third most of any active player.

"Kelsey really emerged as a leader during our spring training sessions," Gabarra said. "She has great leadership skills, she puts the team first and she always makes decisions that are for the best of the team."

Navy advanced to the Patriot League Championship game in 2011 with a 13-6-3 overall record and a 4-2-1 mark in league play. The Mids return two all-league players, eight starters and 19 letterwinners.

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