A lot of my lacrosse teammates call me a “lax fan-boy”. When you love lacrosse as much as I do, but have never played it in college due to a school with hardly a sports program, you’re always going to be in awe with those who have more experience. So, when our third game at Lake Placid had us matched up against the Johns Hopkins alumni team, I was both excited and nervous.
Prior to the opening whistle, my team Brooklyn Men’s Club Lacrosse, which was sponsored and under the name of the real-estate investment firm, CBRE, was 1-1 in the tournament. I was an absolute Johns Hopkins Lacrosse fan growing up and I would’ve sold my soul to be able to play there. At Lake Placid there were a number of names on the Hopkins team who were complete studs in high school, All-Americans in college, U.S. Team members and MLL All-Star players. While my team was very capable and with reliable players, I was thinking of my collegiate resume which had me doing lacrosse art in art school. But regardless of not having a collegiate playing resume, I kept on thinking, manifestly wondering, what brought me here to this present moment.
Once the opening whistle blew it was real-deal, hard lacrosse. The passes were fast but so were the legs of players trying to get open. It was a shark tank – a feeding frenzy. The scoring was a see-saw-ing action, being balanced and showing hints that may take over, until the next goal would even it out. Three goals went off the cuff of my left glove, my left elbow and my left thigh – basically my off-stick side as a right-handed goalie. It was frustrating, but I was also very nervous and admit I wasn’t seeing the ball well.
The second half I calmed down and was able to focus to find my game. We were trailing and slowly chipped away in getting closer to tying. I started to see the ball better and had more command by making a few saves. When we finally tied it up a sense of relief settled in as we headed into overtime. I would’ve been happy to say that we took Hopkins to OT, but what if we did more than just that? Overtime in lacrosse is sudden death. It’s just one shot, for ONE GOAL that is needed.
It was tense, as nobody wanted to make the first mistake that could be a liability once overtime started. Both defenses were very stingy and relentless. However, one of their attackmen roll-dodged one of my defensemen off the GLE, only to find himself on the doorstep of the goal, uncontested. Of all my years I played goal, I was told to hold my thumb to my eye-level to match the shooter’s stick and to try to see the ball in the pocket. For a VERY split-second, my eyes looked at the shooter’s eyes, which is a NO-NO and then back to his stick. I saw his stick and the ball in his pocket and drove everything that I had to my off-stick-side, high, getting the ball with the knuckle of my right index finger. I heard my teammates cheer from the sideline, thus confirming a save. The shooter was the same player who was banking shots off my body parts for goals, but this time it was a save that I wasn’t supposed to save, and a rebound that I got, and cleared to the offense.
My offense was very patient, unselfish and looking for the extra-pass. That extra pass made for a skip pass and eventually the winning goal, which I yelled out loud. I felt like a kid, who did the impossible. It was the only time I raised my hands in the air that weekend after a game. As soon as the game ended, the opposing goalie who was very good, introduced himself and told me “I’m a very big fan of your artwork” and “I follow you on social media.” We chatted it up and I thanked him for his comments.
I left that game thinking that it wasn’t my best performance, but it required me to make one crucial save that was going to be the most important save of the game. Sometimes, It’s not how you start, but how you finish, which was my lesson learned.
I will always be in awe and have the utmost respect for anybody who played college lacrosse, especially for the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays. But, for me, I will always have my story, or my highlight, from Lake Placid to tell. And that’s not bad for an art school grad. :o)