Courtesy of UNCTarHeelsAthletics
So we had a GREAT question posed by someone on our instagram the other day about when to come out of the net. It referred to this play above when Syracuse (go ‘Cuse!) was down by 1 with an 8m shot. As you can see from the clip, there was a pass from 8m and a chaos ensued following the dropped ball. Which leads to the great question: When do you come out of the goal to help your defense? When do you stay in goal?
The answer to this question is not an easy one. There is no if X happens then do Y, or if you see this do that. Fact of the matter is, all goalies play differently and some will be more successful out of the cage while others are more successful in the cage. But we do have some tips for you to help you figure out when it is best to leave or stay.
1. As the title of this post would seem to indicate, always remember that first and foremost you are a goalie! One of my favorite things about this clip is that despite the fact that it was pretty obvious that the Syracuse player taking the 8m would pass, the UNC goalie stayed home in her crease. With the 8m being awarded at the 2nd inside hash, as a goalie you have to honor the fact that the shooter could shoot. Furthermore, there was a defender who was in position to mark tightly once she did catch the ball that the goalie communicated to. If you bait too far for the pass, the opposing player has a shot on an open net. This is a great decision and one of the first lessons to consider. At the end of the day, you are a goalie. You make saves, so if you’ve calculated that you’re in a better position to make a save, make it!
2. The second part of the clip shows when everything got a little chaotic. Syracuse overthrew the pass, but they were able to recover. Being 2-men up, they are going to have an open person, even if the goalie is out. In this situation, you have to make a calculated risk. It seems to me that the UNC goalie saw the pass the whole way, and made the decision to go for the interception-one I probably would have made myself. A few reasons why I would make this decision- the goalie had a good angle to come in for the interception, she could see it the whole way, and at the end of the day had she stayed at home, there’s a good chance it would have been a point blank shot anyways. It looks like she actually tipped the pass, and was so close to picking it off.
3. The last part I like about this clip- the UNC goalie went the distance. What I mean is often times when goalies come out to pick off a pass, they only go half way. They’re nervous that they won’t get the interception, so they only go at 50% or stop short of the pass. In this clip, the UNC goalie made a commitment to getting the pass, and went 100% in doing so. Did she get it? No, but she did tip it. Had she gone 50% likely the pass would have been completed cleanly and she would have been out of position. She at least gave herself a good percentage opportunity to make a play happen.
While things didn’t work out for the UNC goalie, from my perspective she did everything she could have done to make a play and keep her team up by a goal.
So to review, when deciding when to go out for a pass and play more of a defensive role, you have to do a few things: Decide whether you have a good opportunity to make the save first, calculate the risk based on your positioning/athletic ability, and make a commitment to the decision. Now, all of this is happening literally within milliseconds, so much like everything else in lacrosse, it takes practice! I can’t tell you how many times I have been burned in a practice going for an interception and not coming close to it. But guess what? It doesn’t matter. The score doesn’t count in practice and I get to come away with a valuable lesson. As the saying goes, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” How will you ever know your limits if you never test them? Over time I’ve come to learn what is a pass that I can easily pick off, one that I might pick off and one that I definitely won’t pick off. Knowing these things and having practiced them over and over allows a goalie to make those kinds of decisions quickly in a game when it does matter. So use practice as a great tool, fail often and learn more!
So, there you have it. There’s no right or wrong in this situation, only what works for you!