Unlike a sport such as football, lacrosse isn’t as much of a plug-and-play type of game. Yes, there are areas and systems that can do that, but for the most part it’s not that simple. Not that it’s that simple in others sports either, but you hear and see more of it in a sport like football, for example.
Because lacrosse isn’t as much of a plug-and-play sport and because of the depth some teams have with roster sizes there isn’t an inherent NEED to go out and get a player of certain position in every class. Yes, your most likely going to do so, but programs don’t always have a 100% NEED to, especially if they can develop players so the backups are always ready to step up when needed.
The one spot where you do need to secure a player in every single class, regardless of current or future roster talent and depth, is at the goalie position. Lacrosse is a unique sport in that a goalie can single-handedly turn a team around and lead a comeback or lose the game with a poor performance, especially if the defense in front of him isn’t doing their part. That’s not to mention that the goalie is often times that one that starts the clear to get the ball down to the offensive zone. It is very likely that your goalie will touch the ball on nearly every possession in the game.
It is very important that you get at least one goalie in every single recruiting class to build that pipeline of talent in goal. I have personally seen a situation where a team, a DI team, failed to bring in a goalie in their freshman class and it left them with just three on the roster. Can you guess what happened?
Prior to the first game of the season their starter sustained an injury that sidelined him for weeks. The backup had to start the season, until he too got hurt and then they had to put the 3rd string in. The problem was they didn’t have a 4th string goalie. Their solution was to put in a manager at 4th string who had played a few games at goalie in high school. When the third string goalie sustained an injury in a game the manager had to come in and play, it was a conference game too. So yeah, get you a goalie in every single class.
Bringing in a goalie in each class does more than just give you more depth at a position that needs it. Getting a goalie can also bring in some fresh new competition into the goalie room that wasn’t previously there. I’ve seen it first hand where a freshman comes in and starts performing well in practice. That ups the starters intensity and drive as well as the other backups.
In return, that can create a battle in the goalie room for the starting position and then everyone takes it up another notch even more, especially when the coaches decide on a rotating goalie system through the first few games or scrimmages to determine a starter.
You know the old saying, “competition brings out the best in everybody”, that can be very evident when you bring fresh new blood into a goalie room full of older more experienced guys. It really works for any position on the field, not just goalies.
Lastly, and most obvious, when you bring in a goalie in every class you are building a plan for the future. Look at what coach Tillman and the Maryland Terrapins have done over the past decade. That success has been built on a plan to “Be The Best”, as they say at Maryland.
That message “Be The Best” echos throughout the Maryland program and you see it in every position. They are stacked all over the field and when you look at the goalie position it is no different.
In 2016 when Maryland lost to North Carolina in the NCAA Championship game Kyle Bernlohr was a senior and tearing it up for the Terrapins. In 2017 when Maryland won the NCAA Championship it was junior Dan Morris that stood in between the pipes. Morris started again as a senior in 2018 when they lost in the semifinals to Duke.
Here in 2019, it’s Danny Dolan as the starting goalkeeper for Maryland. While Dolan started his career at UMass he was a reserve in 2017 and 2018 behind Dan Morris. Now as a 5th year senior he is getting his shot and has been very effective so far. Next in line the Terrapins have 3 reserve goalies on the roster now, and that includes two sophomores and a senior. So far they have one goalie committed in the both the 2019 and 2020 class.
It’s a pipeline system that has spit out good goalie after good goalie. Maryland isn’t the only example of this either as you can find programs that do this very well all over the country in all divisions.
For a position that can impact the game in such a huge way, having just two on the roster each year is just a too small of an amount. If the program has the resources they should be stockpiling goalies with at least three to five on the roster each and every year.