Bear with me, I am going somewhere with this…I was a quarterback in high school, and was the emergency goalie for Goucher College during the 2001 season. In both instances there was a point where I was given the news that my services were required for the team in a starting role.
In high school football, it was when my older friend, the starter, hurt his wrist and was out for the season after our sixth game. I was the back-up and started the last three games of the season. I had played in relief in most of the other games, and was on the field as the team’s punter, so it wasn’t a huge transition.
In college, I was an athletic middie who didn’t have any outstanding scoring moves, so moving me into the crease wasn’t a big issue. My friend who was our only goalie that year, was spending his fall doing a government internship in DC, so the team needed someone to take shots on and lead the defense during fall ball. While we were able to acquire a back-up in the spring, I was still a consideration in case one of them went down.
I think Nick’s perspective is a little different. He was the third string goalie, while he may have gotten one start against Hood College earlier in the season, he is no way prepared to lead the team in these big situations. I imagine he enjoys being on a great team like Salisbury and playing in relief appearances, but as the #3 guy. You probably figure you will never get the nod to start unless something crazy happens. Which it did when the starter and the back up got arrested 24 hours before the semi-final game against Gettysburg.
There will probably be 30,000 people at the Division III championship game. I couldn’t imagine what that would feel like to a person who just a week ago was probably just happy to be able to see the game for free on the sidelines. Now he has to be on the field as a starter and stop a good Cortland team. And while not only giving Salisbury another championship, but keep their 44 game winning steak going.
I am not saying Nick is a bad goalie. He helped them win the big semi-final game against Gettysburg. Plus he is playing for Salisbury to begin with. Its not like Coach Berkman is desperate for players. I imagine thousands of kids want to play for Salisbury and hundreds actually try out, and Berkman has to let a couple dozen go every fall. So I am sure Nick is a great goalie, probably would start at most other DIII schools.
Which goes to the next point, why do some lacrosse teams have so many goalies? Duke has six this season. Salisbury had four, and now probably just has two. My alma mater, Goucher had five in the 2005 season. There has got to be a point in your life when you’re a lacrosse goalie and you read the writing on the wall. If you’re the sixth goalie for Duke, its probably transferring to a different school like Towson, Loyola, Stony Brook, or Albany to get a starting position. Or if you weren’t that heavily recruited to begin with, you go to a DIII school to start. If you’re the fifth goalie on a DIII team, you probably ought to consider playing another position, or maybe taking up another sport or hobby. I heard stamp collecting is very enjoyable.
In conclusion, here is a little example of the mental feelings a team has when they have a certain number of goalies:
1-Oh crap! He better not get hurt!…What dumb middie can we throw a chest protector on if he does?
2-Somewhat worried that I only have one other option
3-Feeling great that I have a starter and two guys battling for a chance to play
4-Feeling great that I have a starter, a back up battle, and someone to search for balls in the woods
5-The team bus is getting a little crowded
6-Come on! That guy is only on the team for the free t-shirts and meals!