Bruised shins better than bruised ego
Vail CO, Colorado
EDWARDS ” The common perception is that it just takes guts to play goalie in lacrosse.
While nobody can deny that putting yourself in front of a solid rubber ball with only a helmet, stick, chest protector and gloves may be pretty daring, there are plenty of other attributes that make a great netminder.
“It’s a mentally demanding job,” said Brittany Farniok, who plays goal for Regis University and Team Lacrosse Wear at the Vail Lacrosse Shootout.
Forget about taking point-blank shots off the shins or the neck ” the swish of the mesh net causes goalies to grimace more than anything.
“You can’t have any sort of short-term memory ” it’s like (defensive) backs in football,” said Jen Caltrider, the goalie for the Tap This squad. “You’re going to get scored on. You have to live with it. Getting down on yourself brings your defense down and that’s the other thing ” communication is a huge part of playing goal.”
Along with their coaches, the goalies are the ones going horse by the end of the game.
“I’m usually the loudest one out there, which is expected of every goalie,” Farniok said.
“You’re the quarterback of the defense,” Caltrider said. “You see the whole field and they have their backs to it. It’s your job to call the double (team’s) and the covers and weak sides, and know which players are weak and strong.”
And once the ball is in their sticks, the goalies have to be some of the best passers on the field.
“It’s part of our game,” said Marty Dunn, who is the goalie for Dunn Financial.
As he showed during his game Monday afternoon, Dunn can move pretty well outside of the crease.
“If it’s a fast break and I make the save, I take off the other way a lot and create the breakout the other way,” said Dunn, who has been known to score two or three goals a year.
Not all young lacrosse players dream of standing between the pipes, and goalies can be born by chance.
“We didn’t have a goalie, so everyone had to put their names in a hat, and I got picked,” said Nick Antol of the Generals. “I did all right, so I stayed in there.”
Dunn’s beginnings came through a far less democratic method.
“I have two older brothers, one is a defenceman and one an attackman, and the baby brother gets thrown into goal ” you know how it works,” Dunn said.
Farniok started out playing hockey goalie and decided to move over to lacrosse. Caltrider, who grew up in West Virginia where there wasn’t any lacrosse, decided to give the sport a try at Guilford College.
“I came out the first day, they told me I had to wear skirts and I thought playing in skirts was ridiculous. And they said if you play in goal, you can wear shorts, so I said, great, I’m a goalie. I’ve been a goalie ever since,” Caltrider said.
When starting out, the goalies had to get a bit used to taking shots off their body.
“You never pray to get hit by the ball, but after a while you get used to it,” Dunn said. “You’re more interested in stopping the ball than worrying about the pain. You can deal with that afterwards, throw some ice on it and you’ll be fine.”
“You aren’t thinking about getting hit, you’re thinking about doing your job,” Caltrider said. “I’d much rather (players) shoots at my body than around me. The hurt to the pride is worse than the hurt to the body.”
Dunn actually prefers the ball hit his body in certain situations.
“It will deaden (the shot),” he said. “If it comes out my stick, it’s an easy rebound. If it hits my body, at least it’s hitting something soft.”
There are plenty of bumps, bruises and breaks that come from playing goal.
“I break my thumbs and pinkies all the time,” Dunn said. “My right pinkie, I’ve broken probably 10 times.”
“I took four shots to my left shin in the matter of two days last season and it’s still sore when I press on it and that was four months ago,” Farniok said.
Although the shots come faster at the higher levels, this doesn’t always mean the injuries will be greater.
“It gets easier the older you get and the better the shooters are,” Antol said. “Guys in (Division I colleges) aren’t shooting down the middle. It’s in the corner of the net.”
Lacrosse goalies know better than to obsess over their statistics. In the recent Division 1 NCAA men’s finals, John’s Hopkins won, 12-11, with the Blue Jay’s goalie, Jesse Schwartzman being named the game’s Most Outstanding Player.
“If you win the game, it doesn’t matter,” Antol said of letting in goals.
And a great save often outshines just about anything, as Caltrider knows.
“The best save I ever made in my entire life was against Jen Adams a year ago. She’s the best player in the world. How many people get to play against Michael Jordan in basketball or Peyton Manning in football? Every player thinks about that moment. She was right there, faked high, went low, and I stopped it,” Caltrider said, then joked, “the other 10 goals she scored on me that game, I conveniently forgot.”
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.