The last time DeSales High School senior Becca Dowling-Fitzpatrick was in a soccer uniform at Crew Stadium, she was leaping into the arms of her teammates after the Stallions won the Division II state championship.

The last time DeSales High School senior Becca Dowling-Fitzpatrick was in a soccer uniform at Crew Stadium, she was leaping into the arms of her teammates after the Stallions won the Division II state championship.

On Saturday, April 28, Dowling-Fitzpatrick returned in a different uniform, at a different position and with other lofty goals at stake when she competed with the U.S. Deaf Women's National team in an exhibition game.

She was the starting goalkeeper for the Stallions and had three saves in a 2-0 win over Toledo St. Ursula in the state final on Nov. 12, but she expects to play in the field for the Deaf National team.

"It's going to be a lot of fun," Dowling-Fitzpatrick said. "It's a big opportunity."

The women's team plays Otterbein University at 12:30 p.m., followed by the men's exhibition game against the Crew Soccer Academy at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $25 each and are good for both games as well as the Major League Soccer contest between the Crew and the Vancouver Whitecaps at 7:30 p.m.

Dowling-Fitzpatrick, who can hear with the help of hearing aids and will play at Division III Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y., originally was encouraged to try out for the U.S.A. Deaf Track and Field team by DeSales assistant track coach P.J. Deas. However, Dowling-Fitzpatrick, who is in her second season on the Stallions girls track team, enjoys soccer more and so she pursued that sport. She secured her spot on the Deaf National soccer team during a tryout in late February in Atlanta.

Players range in age from 18 to 36.

"She's a tremendous athlete and she'd be a goalkeeper for us, except we have two college-level goalies on the team," said Yon Struble, who coaches the Deaf Women's National team and also coaches the women's team at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. "She didn't play in goal when she tried out. Whatever she fits on the field, she's going to do well. Her athleticism is her greatest strength."

Dowling-Fitzpatrick earned her starting position with the DeSales before the start of last season and was a stalwart as the Stallions went 18-4-2 and won their first state championship since 1998. She didn't allow a goal in eight postseason games, as the Stallions outscored their opponents 34-0.

"Becca is one of those people who says 'don't say I can't,'" DeSales girls soccer coach Bob McGee said. "I'm not even sure she was on our radar (to be starting goalie) before last season, but she ran track to increase her athletic ability and spent extra time working with a goalkeeping coach. When she started having a good year, she never had the attitude of 'I made it.' She wanted to continue and progress and be the best goalkeeper she could."

According to McGee, the biggest obstacle Dowling-Fitzpatrick faced on the field as a result of her hearing loss was communication.

"She has to understand what's around her because she can't rely on vocal keys from her teammates, but she easily adapted," he said. "If there's a rainy day, she has to pull out both her hearing aids and then she's kind of on an island."

The exhibition game this weekend is part of a four-day training camp that will determine which 20 players on the Deaf National team make the final roster when it travels to Ankara, Turkey, in July for the 2012 World Deaf Football Championships. The U.S. will play Russia, Japan, Germany and Korea in pool play. In 2009 in Taipei, Taiwan, the Americans defeated Germany for the gold medal.

The gold medal indirectly led to Struble taking over as coach of the national team in 2011. One of the team's best players at that time, Kate Ward, had played for him in an Atlanta-area developmental league.

Dowling-Fitzpatrick hopes her training last summer helps her secure a roster spot for the World Deaf Football Championships.

"Sometimes I would prefer to be on the field because as a goalie, sometimes you sit back and you're not doing anything for a while," she said. "(Last) summer, I worked both in goal and on the field. Whenever the coaches wanted me to be in the field, I'd be on the field. If they wanted me in goal, I'd be in goal."