Another Tar Heel featured in the goalie spotlight, with Taylor Moreno. In her redshirt freshman season this spring, Taylor was named ACC tournament MVP and IL Women All-Rookie Team. In 16 games played, she accrued an impressive 54% save percentage.
Originally from Huntington, NY, Taylor attended Huntington High School where she earned more than 10 varsity letters in lacrosse, soccer, basketball, track, and football. She was the first girl in Huntington HS history to play on the varsity football team (kicker) and also has a first-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. On the lacrosse field, Taylor was named an Under Armour All-American and All-State twice.
Below you'll find Taylor's responses to your questions!
How long have you been playing goalie/lacrosse?
I’ve been playing lacrosse for about 12 years and I’ve been playing goalie for about 9 years.
What drew you to the position?
My town team when I was little didn’t have a set goalie so each had to take turns rotating at the position and when it was my turn to play goalie I absolutely loved it and I didn’t look back.
What’s your favorite part about playing the position now?
I love the thrill of making a save. It’s one of the best feelings in the world, especially is close games when it matters most.
What’s the hardest part about the position for you? How do you try to manage or handle that aspect?
The hardest thing is the fact that it’s one spot. There could be 2 to 4 of you on a roster but there’s only one spot to be filled and I think that’s the hardest concept to deal with as a goalie. I manage/deal with it by working as hard as I can to get better. It comes down to saving the ball and who can save the most and if you can conquer that skill and trust yourself then you deserve the spot.
In close games how do you stay focused?
As weird as this is gonna sound I usually give myself a pep talk. You almost have to remind yourself of what your job is and that’s to save the ball. Sometimes games get crazy, calls don’t go your way, the stands can be super loud, but if you can remind yourself to pay attention to the task at hand then it becomes easier to stay focused.
When things start going south in game, like consecutive goals without a save, how do you rebound and stay confident? What about when things aren’t going well defensively as a unit?
You flush it down the toilet. My club coach always taught me to forget about the last play because the next one starts 0-0. You can dwell on it for a few seconds only to realize where you made the mistake, but after that, you forget about it. Forget the goal went in and forget what the score is because it’s a new play and a new chance to make up for the mistake.
Can you discuss any challenges you faced and how you overcame them? (I.e. lack playing time, injury, time management, etc)
I’ve had to overcome a couple challenges in my life but each one I’ve faced, I would gladly relive a million times over. The reason being, they’ve shaped me into the person, athlete, and teammate I am today. Playing time in high school was a struggle, not because I wasn’t good enough, but because sometimes your put in a situation where politics make it hard for you to progress in any aspect, whether that be in practice or in games. It’s worth fighting to an extent, but when the point comes where you know things aren’t going to change, you just have to continue to put in the effort to make yourself better. It doesn’t matter if you don’t see the results on the field, it matters that you see results within yourself. Now for those who do experience this at some point in time just remember, you were meant for something bigger than that. That experience taught me patience and determination and its carried over into my work ethic in college not only on the field, but in the classroom as well. I also have to overcome injuries, a lot of them. My senior year of high school in a basketball game I tore my left ACL. Freshman fall of college, I tore it again along with my medial meniscus. And most recently after climbing back this season, earning playing time, I re-tore my medial meniscus in our game against Northwestern. The one thing these injuries all have in common is that they happened to the same knee but each time I rehabbed and worked out harder than I did the last and I made the comeback. Don’t get me wrong at times I felt like my career was gonna be over because last thing I wanted to do was go through it again, but I told myself it gets better and I continued to work and work until I returned to the field. It was frustrating at times having to climb back up the ranks to get back to where I left off, but I would do it again and again. It taught me about perseverance and it taught me about the importance of a positive attitude. Staying positive is so hard but it drives the foundation of your comeback. Have a negative attitude and you fall behind which means more time spent not playing lacrosse. Have a positive attitude and before you know it you’re back on that field absolutely tearing it up playing the sport you love.
What’s the best part about playing in college? Favorite college lacrosse memory?
The best part about playing college lacrosse is the support. You get it from your coaches, your friends, your parents and you even get it from your teachers. My favorite lacrosse memory was winning the ACC championships this year. Last year I got to experience it from the sidelines but this year I was able to contribute and be a part of it and there was no better feeling.
If you committed early, how did you stay motivated to keep getting better? How do you stay motivated now, especially in the offseason?
I stayed motivated by sticking to my normal routine. If I had practice I went and I played like I wasn’t committed. It’s just a label and it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got the spot until you sign the papers your senior year. College coaches want to see you improve your talent so continue to work hard every day at what you do and improve on the things you’re not so good at. Don’t be satisfied.
If you had to do the recruiting process over again, is there anything you would do differently? Not in your choice of school, but things you considered highly then but might not necessarily now? What were the things that were most important to you to look for in a school during your process?
When you walk onto a campus for the first time, generally you get this overwhelming feeling of “this is where I want to go.” But make sure you explore every option. Because let me tell you, I exhausted all my options. I looked EVERYWHERE and I mean everywhere. UNC was one of my last visits and had I rushed and picked a school my parents wanted or my coaches wanted, I would have never made it there and I would’ve missed out. Pick the school you want not the school others want. Pick it for you. Wherever you go make sure it feels like home. Fall in love with the coaches and fall in love with the team. Trust me it’ll be worth the wait.
Did you feel burnt out after the recruiting process? Have you ever felt burnt out throughout your career? How did you get through those periods?
Recruiting was definitely overwhelming so ask for help when things get chaotic because sometimes they do. It’s okay to ask for help remember that. I haven’t really ever felt burnt out but it’s okay to have some “me” time every once in a while. Find something you enjoy doing outside of lacrosse because inevitably, whatever it may be, could help you in some aspect of lacrosse.
Do you have a favorite drill or one that has helped you the most in goal, with and without someone else?
Without: with your stick and a ball, find a wall and start off playing some wall ball. Then to make it more challenging throw it at different levels of the wall to simulate a shot and work on overturning your hands for those off-stick side hip and low shots. Those are generally the harder spots to make saves and continuing that drill will help you develop muscle memory when it comes to making saves in that spot.
With someone: to work on your arch and positioning, one of my favorite drills is sweeps from the top center of the twelve. If you have a shooter, have them start with a pile of balls at the top of the 12. Then have them run towards you and once the hit the 8-meter they pick a direction, left or right, and they follow the ally along the 8-meter arch and take a shot anywhere between the center hash and the hanging hash. While this is happening you are following the ball while working on maintaining your arch and angle, which is you are doing it correctly, should shut off as much of the cage as possible making it hard for the shooter to find the net to shoot at.
Where do you think you have grown the most in your game from high school to college and how did you do it? Did you have an individual goalie coach to help?
Being patient and relying on my technique and skill to save the ball. In high school, I was super jumpy and would sometimes give up goals that I would’ve saved if I had waited a few seconds longer to move. Sometimes I would move too early and mess up my positioning and it made it that much easier for people to score on me. My goalie coach in club lacrosse and in college taught me the right technique on holding my hands high, focusing on the ball, my stance, etc. It’s helped reduce the number of mistakes and raise the number of saves.
Something you could tell yourself now when you were first learning the position?
It’s harder to save the ball than it is to score so give yourself credit when you do.
Anything else you think young goalies would find helpful or interested in knowing?
It gets hard sometimes to play the most difficult position in the game but that’s what makes it worth it. The thrill of making a game winning save will be the greatest feeling you ever experience. Letting up the game winning goalie will also be the worst feeling you ever experience. But know that’s not your fault because it had to get through 11 other people before it got to you. So, if a goal goes in, pick your head up, shake it off, and forget about it.