Final Four: My 5 Takeaways and Goalie Notes

The final four games yesterday were incredible, and I'm so glad I was able to watch! There was a lot that I noticed about the goalies that played and the games overall that I hope you will enjoy. 

Overall notes:

1. I'm confused why the games weren't broadcast on live TV. Those games, even the lopsided MD/Penn State, were by far the best final four games I've seen in awhile. The fast pace of the game, the immense skill of players, grit, and heart were all on display for those watching. In my opinion, would have been great exposure for anyone not familiar with the sport. I'm excited the championship game will be broadcast, but we need more.

2. The lack of diversity was evident. We must continue this conversation, and do what we can to help facilitate its growth so the sport is accessible to all. It's problematic to imagine the number of people watching that didn't even notice. As we're trying to get our sport displayed more into the mainstream, is this what we want the world to see? Check out my blog to see what you can do today to help with the many organizations working to create change every day. 

3. Numbers don't always tell the tale. While in game 2, BC's Ochoa had several saves as the commentators kept discussing, Navy's Boyum had fewer but in my opinion had a much stronger impact in fueling Navy's play on the other side, leading to their momentum late in the first half.

4. I've said it before and I'll say it again - there's no one way to be a good goalie. We saw very different styles on display Friday night and all had their successes along with weaknesses, which I'll discuss below. It's about finding what works for you and your abilities. More coaches need to recognize this and not force goalies into a style that worked for someone else. I'll discuss this more in an upcoming blog.

5. Even at the highest level in college lacrosse, attackers still are shooting high to high without fakes.  This is where you see the difference in Maryland's skillset on the attack. The level of shooting from every player on nearly every shot is on point. They see where the goalie is, throw a fake and bury it. On both accounts, goalies - you have to hold. It's so hard I know, and in these positions many times the odds are against you but you have your best chance holding and making the attacker move.

Alright, let's get into some notes on what I saw from the goalies. Keep in mind, this was my first exposure to all of them as I haven't been able to watch this season. 

Maryland - Taylor is insanely quick and had some great stops. I noticed she comes out on one on ones, as many goalies do and was the reason for many of the Penn State goals. Overall, definitely the best goalie I saw play Friday. 

Penn State - Rainone had a tough job facing the best shooters in the country. She did what she could but interestingly dropped to her knees on low shots. I saw BC's second half goalie do the same. I'm not a huge fan myself, but I think it's one of those things that if it works for you, it works for you. I think sometimes Rainone got in trouble leading with her feet before her hands, but again with the best shooters in the country close in there's just not too much you can do. 

Both goalies I noticed keep their stick above the crossbar when the ball is behind. I'm not sure about the rationale here, but in most cases, it's best to keep your stick low and then go for it if you can. With the stick up high, it gives attackers a clear target to avoid.

Boston College - Ochoa showed exactly how playing a high arc can work for an athletic goalie. She was able to come up with a lot of saves because of this. The downside is that being high out cuts off the amount of time you have to react to the ball, which is why it only works for a few goalies. I'm very interested to see how this style bodes against the Maryland attackers. Another downside is that when you're dealing with very skilled attackers if they fake and you move at all you are way out of position. I think this is what led to many Navy goals towards the end of the half. I loved seeing her be successful with this style and proving that different styles work for different goalies.

Navy - Boyum was very patient in cage, but also very quick. Her style proved to be the opposite of Ochoa. Although as I mentioned before, commentators kept touting Ochoa's save numbers, Boyum came up with clutch saves in key moments that guided Navy's offensive momentum in the first half. Second half was a struggle for her, and you could see that clearly. I hope a lot of goalies were watching her reactions to some of the goals and we all could see the frustration. This is something as a goalie you don't want to do. You never want to let the other team know how you're feeling because you're showing your cards. You're telling them "you're in my head" and bolsters the confidence of an attacker even more. 

Goalies, when you're watching these games you're watching the best college players in the country. Watch their styles, how they move, what they do, and see if there's any part of their game you can incorporate into yours. There is so much you can learn from watching other goalies, even the other goalies on your team. 

All in all, these goalies all gave it their best efforts and you could tell. I hope you all learned something you can take into your own game from this and will do the same for tomorrow's game! Best of luck to the two teams playing, and congrats to all the goalies out there on another awesome season of lacrosse!