College Goalkeepers' Strategies and Tips
part of an E-Lacrosse Interview with Trish Cummings
On Saturday, October 21, 2000, I attended the George Mason University Fall Lacrosse Tournament. It turned out to be a fun-filled day of exciting lacrosse action for all the players, coaches and fans. There were fourteen teams playing in the tournament that included American, Duke, Georgetown, Hofstra, Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Maryland, UNC, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Syracuse, William & Mary, the Canadian National Team and George Mason. I interviewed a goalkeeper from eight of these teams. They have collegiate level playing experience and have provided valuable insights to their role on the field. I was able to focus on specific questions that will cover different aspects of the game. By learning these strategies and hints from top-level Division I goalkeepers, you can improve your game.
Melissa Coyne, North Carolina
Melissa Coyne is from Baltimore, MD. She is a junior goalkeeper at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill. I asked her to describe the correct goalkeeper's stick and body positioning in the goal cage. She gave a very clear and specific analysis of her own stick and body placement. Melissa keeps her top hand at the throat of the stick and her bottom hand halfway down the stick. She has her arms at a comfortable distance away from her body with knees slightly bent and feet shoulder width apart. I also asked Melissa to discuss her greatest memory or experience as a goalkeeper. She spoke about Carolina's regular season game against Maryland last year. They won in four overtime periods and she had a major impact on the final result in that game with a number of excellent saves.
Jen White, Notre Dame
Jen White is from Annapolis, MD. She is a sophomore goalkeeper at the University of Notre Dame. I asked her to name four top characteristics of a person who is the process of becoming an All-American goalkeeper. She stated a number of interesting qualities that are important for goalkeepers at any level. First, Jen used the term, 'composure' that should be maintained in the goal cage. Second, she spoke about mental toughness and keeping emotions to oneself in order to bring your game to the next level. Third, Jen discussed the importance of attacking/seeing/stepping up to the ball. These three strategies should be developed and worked on each day to become natural instincts of a goalkeeper. Fourth, Jen mentioned the best way to be on top of your game is to have fun and enjoy playing lacrosse each day. She described her favorite lacrosse playing experience as taking the opportunities to be an extra defender on the field. Jen greatly enjoys intercepting passes, anticipating the play in order to maintain her role as a major presence on the field.
Jamie Tiburzi, George Mason
Jamie Tiburzi is from Fallston, MD. She is a sophomore goalkeeper at George Mason University. I asked her to describe two key fundamental skills in goalkeeping. She spoke about the idea of being set or balanced in the goal cage. Jamie also described the specific strategy of taking small steps in the crease circle. Therefore, it can help to reduce or eliminate the angle of various shots. I also asked Jamie about her greatest memory as a goalkeeper. She very much enjoyed her team's game against James Madison. Jamie had 27 saves and broke the school record for having the most number of saves in one game.
Trish Dabrowski, Loyola
Trish Dabrowski is from Baltimore, MD. She is a junior goalkeeper at Loyola College. I asked her the following question, "Why is it a good idea for the goalkeeper and the defense to communicate with each other in the 7vs7 game situation?" Trish gave a very accurate and detailed response. She described her role of goalkeeper as being like a quarterback of the team. Trish discussed the importance of letting players know where the ball is on the field at all times. She also calls for slides and double teams around the goal depending on each situation. The main focus of communication is for the defense to feel comfortable with each and work together as a team unit on the field. I asked Trish to mention one of her favorite memories on the field. She really enjoyed Loyola's conference championship (CAA) win against James Madison. As a goalkeeper, Trish focuses on just saving the ball and leaves everything else off the field.
Bowen Holden, Georgetown
Bowen Holden is from Massachusetts. She is a senior goalkeeper at Georgetown University. I asked her to describe two of her pre-game warm-up drills. First, Bowen talked about the 3vs2 situation. It can be described as three attack players bringing the ball down from the 50yd line against two defenders and the goalkeeper. Bowen enjoys working in this type of man down situation because she looks upon it as more of a challenge in saving the ball. Second, Bowen mentioned her other pre-game warm-up drill as the rapid fire of shots from all points on the 8M. It can be a very beneficial exercise for quick reaction time in the goal cage. Bowen's favorite memory of playing goalkeeper at Georgetown was in her first NCAA game against UNC. Bowen held the ball for the last minute of the game. She was also able to roll it in and out of the crease circle. Bowen kept her composure as a goalkeeper and was able to protect the ball, keep it safe and maintain possession at the end of a very close and important game.
Kristen Foster, Duke
Kristen Foster is from Baltimore, MD. She is a junior goalkeeper at Duke University. I asked her to explain the importance of the term, 'stepping up to the ball.' She responded with the idea of getting your body behind the ball in order to make the save. Kristen mentioned that it is also important to bring your stick and body to the ball all in one fluid motion. Another key skill is to reduce the angles of shots. Kristen uses the goal posts as a measure to see the ball from various angles on the field. She discussed one of her greatest memories as her team's game against Georgetown. Kristen made an interception out of the goal cage in that game and she also enjoys helping the defense around the goal.
Virginia Solomon, Maryland
Virginia Solomon is from Washington, D.C. She is a sophomore goalkeeper at the University of Maryland. I asked her to explain the significance of the terms, 'quick reflexes and reaction time' in the position as goalkeeper. She addressed a number of critical traits that are quite important to develop in the goal cage. Virginia believes that a goalkeeper should be light on her feet and quick in her reaction time in saving the shot. In addition, a goalkeeper should also be an athletic individual with decent hand-eye coordination. By having quick reflexes in reacting to the ball, it will enable the goalkeeper to remain calm and focused throughout the game. One of Virginia's favorite experiences as a goalkeeper at Maryland is having the opportunity to play with great shooters at practice all the time. She will learn and benefit a great deal from her teammates. By working hard and preparing at practice, goalkeepers feel less pressure and become confident in their own abilities.
Jen McDonald, Johns Hopkins
Jen McDonald is from Garden City, New York. She is a sophomore goalkeeper at Johns Hopkins University. I asked her the following question, "After making a save, what is the proper technique of clearing the ball out of the defense in order to make a safe transition down field?" Jen provided a specific example of her own style of play. First, she takes the opportunity to scan the field and look for one of her teammates, most likely a defender who is cutting into the open spaces. Second, Jen slides her hand down the stick so she can get more power and distance in clearing the ball down field. She also mentioned that her team uses various clearing plays to work the ball out of the defense. Jen described her greatest lacrosse playing memory as a goalkeeper in their regular season win against George Mason in three overtime periods. She knew that her team was the underdog and that they were not expected to win the game. It was a great feeling to come out with a victory over a higher ranked team at the time.
I would like to thank all of the goalkeepers for providing their knowledge and experience in the position. I enjoyed having the chance to meet with them. As collegiate level Division I goalkeepers, they have provided valuable insights that can greatly benefit the development of young players.
The goalkeeper is a very significant member of any team. Therefore, players should give themselves the opportunity to try the position and learn from the outstanding college goalkeepers in this article. By working hard at practiced skills and doing your best to understand these strategies and tips for goalkeeping, you can made bid strides toward that ultimate feeling of saving that final shot in a big college game!