Editor’s Note: We’re trying out a new Friday Feature called the Friday Editorial. Each week, we’ll be looking for someone inside (or outside!) the lacrosse world to write an editorial post on something they feel strongly about. The topics will range greatly, but to start us off, Connor Wilson has offered up his thoughts on US Box Lacrosse, and how a good goalie could be the key to future sustained success.
I went through the initial college draft results for the North American Lacrosse League yesterday and broke down some of the selections each team had made. One thing that stood out (which I didn’t really touch on in my post) was that there was a notabale lack of American goalies selected. The only keeper selected was John Galloway, and it seems possible that he might be pulling a Brett Queener, and moving to the field for the box game. He’s got a great stick and could probably make the transition, but honestly, I’d like to see him in goal a lot more.
The fact is that there is no great US keeper out there right now, and we need at least one as soon as possible. The way to accomplish this is for a US field goalie to step up to the plate. I am well aware of how different the position of field goalie and box goalie are. I know that Matt Vinc play defense for the Canadian National field lacrosse team and goalie in the NLL. I know Brett Queener does the opposite. But I’m simply not sold on the idea that a good field goalie couldn’t become a great box goalie.
Can you see how a play is developing and think one or two steps ahead to get yourself in position? Are you willing to stand in front of a hard rubber ball and keep it out of a goal? Are you able to learn new things? YOU ARE!?!?!?!? Then you can make the transition to box.
All these guys need is some instruction, some opportunity, and then lots and lots of repetitions. So in this regard above all others, the NALL is a potential goldmine for US box lacrosse development. When Scott Rodgers was trying out for the Minnesota Swarm, they made a defender. Um, were they freaking serious?!?!?! He’s a goalie. LET HIM PLAY GOALIE! Trying to convert Rodgers to a defender was as intelligent as trying to convert Eric Crouch to a defensive back or wide receiver. NLL defenders have been playing defense for their entire careers for the most part. Rodgers has been playing goalie. Let’s make him a defenseman! Unbelievable.
So I am absolutely praying for a couple of things.
The first thing I want to see happen is John Galloway playing goalie in the NALL. Please don’t tryout for a transition spot in the NLL. Just play goalie. We need you! Galloway was awesome at Cuse and he plays angles very well. He also has an excellent and accurate outlet pass, and his excellent stick skills would definitely come in use when wearing all those pads. Galloway could push the break like he did in college with outlet passes, and if he stuck with it, I could see him being the highest scoring goalie in box lacrosse history. But he’ll need some time to develop, and I really believe the NALL will be a great place to do just that.
Galloway will be playing in Charlotte under Tom Ryan, and Ryan KNOWS box lacrosse. If anyone can convert a field goalie to a box goalie in a short period of time, it’s Ryan. TR didn’t play goalie, but he did play boxla for a LONG time and he’s the US Team Head Coach. I’m pretty sure he can teach Galloway a thing or two, and once Galloway needs higher level instruction, TR will be able to reach out to his spiderweb of box contacts and bring down someone to help coach. Now I’m just praying that it goes down this way. But weirder things have happened.
My second big hope is that Scott Rodgers finds his way into the NALL as a starting goalie somewhere. I don’t want to see him play defense in the NLL, and I don’t want to see him sit on the bench in the NLL either. If he is going to develop, he needs to play, and the NALL would be perfect for that. I’m going on the assumption that Rodgers actually wants to play goalie here, but also because I hope he realizes that he has the chance to do something really BIG. And isn’t that how Rodgers operates?
Rodgers is looking like THE guy in 2014 for the US field lacrosse team right now. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon. So how cool would it be if he were ALSO the guy in 2015 for the US box lacrosse team? No one has done that before, and it would create a positive connection for many US field lacrosse fans. It wouldn’t hurt his reputation either! I just worry that his responsibilities at Marquette could get in the way. But we’ll see on that.
Rodgers is big, strong, fearless and takes up a lot of the cage. He’s loud and a leader. He’s the kind of guy who could keep the US defense in lock-step when they face the Canadians or Iroquois Nationals. He’s a winner, and he’s competitive. Rodgers is the kind of goalie you can lean on in the outdoor game, and I think he could be very similar indoors.
There are a couple of US keepers out there right now like Mickey Hover and Ginny Capicchioni, but neither has shown they are ready to be the goalie for an elite international lacrosse team. For the Bowhunter Cup this weekend, Jake Henhawk is also playing for the US, but I don’t know that he is the answer either. In the end, I think it’s going to take an elite level lacrosse player crossing over to box lacrosse. And in my opinion, Galloway and Rodgers are the keepers with the most potential.
I’d like to see them both vye for the spot of top US box goalie for a couple of simple reasons. It will give them someone to work against, and possibly even with. It’s another US goalie to talk to and learn with, but the air of spirited competition would be there too. And that produces results. It also gives the US a better chance of finding at least one great keeper… simply because we’d have two guys trying instead of just one. Finally, if they BOTH emerged as good box keepers, it might create a really solid early rivalry, and that would only help the NALL in the long run, which would in turn help US box lacrosse overall.
Could we try to find a washed up hockey goalie? Sure we could. But I’m not a fan of this idea because how invested is a guy like that REALLY going to be? “Hey you didn’t quite make it… want to try this other sport that you probably can’t ever make a living off of?” It’s just not a convincing move. But a lacrosse guy like Galloway or Rodgers? Well they love lax, and that should be enough motivation right there.
So basically, the future of US box lacrosse rests squarely on John Galloway and Scott Rodgers’ shoulders. Good luck fellas!
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