Friday Editorial: The USA Needs Good Box Lacrosse Goalie

Friday Editorial

Friday Editorial

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.

The great US (don’t mind the mesh) keeper – Scott Rodgers.

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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  1. Awesome point about getting the best of the best in the box pads. We need our best players to become the best. 

    But good luck convincing those guys to invest the time in learning how to play with the big pads! All but one of my field goalie friends LOATHE it. Absolutely hate it, and think it’s the least fun position ever. 

  2. I don’t think I can agree with you on this one. Putting a field lacrosse goalie into a box lacrosse net (with the gear of course) is a bad idea. I play both box lacrosse and field lacrosse goalie. Field lacrosse and box lacrosse have very little cross over for a goalie. You need somebody that has never played field goalie to play box goalie. The ideal player is actually a box lacrosse defense men to play goalie, not a field lacrosse goalie. But that’s just my opinion. 

    •  I hear what you’re saying… but right now, Ginny Capicchioni is one of the US goalies.  She played Women’s field lacrosse in college.  So why couldn’t Rodgers and Galloway do this and be even better?

  3. I strongly disagree.

    Just recently, while playing for the ELL, I had a discussion about this very topic (converting field into box goalies) with a former Buffalo Bandits goalie draftee and player.

    In the same draft, the Bandits also acquired a field goalie and put him in pads at camp.
    Not only did my boxla goalie friend find that highly insulting, the field goalie also performed very, very poorly.

    Assuming the 10000 hours rule has any factual accuracy to it, how could you possible think a converted field goalie will ever as good as somebody who has been moving in those huge pads since he (or she!) was 6 years old!

    It take both Rodgers and Galloway years to master the field goalie position, to imply that through “sheer force of will” they will accomplish the same thing for box goalie with little to no time, belittles what guys like Whipper and Vino, or even Ginny and Henhawk had to go through to arrive where they are.

    PS: I have heard, they initially put Rodgers in pads at camp. As you can imagine, it didn’t go too well.

    •  Some good points Artjom!

      But I’m going to argue with you anyway, because it’s fun!

      regarding the two examples of field goalies trying to play box goalie in the NLL and failing: see that’s the problem!!!  They are NOT ready for the NLL. totally true.  So that’s why I want to see them play in the NALL.  Our field players AND goalies could learn the game together and it would provide a more even training field for everyone.

      I’m not implying they will get ANYWHERE through sheer force of will.  What I said was that they would need to work on it, learn the game, and then get TONS of repetitions.  It would take time.  Maybe even 3-5 years!!!!  I don’t think it’s some sort of overnight thing at all.

      I actually think Ginny is a GREAT example of this field to box development.  She played goalie in college at Sacred Heart, right?  Well she made the transition from playing WOMEN’S FIELD LACORSSE goalie to box goalie… and you know when she started playing goalie in women’s lacrosse?  IN COLLEGE!!!!  She was a field hockey goalie first, THEN learned field lacrosse, THEN learned Box.  so why couldn’t Galloway or Rodgers do that and see even more success?????  And don’t tell me playing field hockey goalie is like box goalie, because I’ve seen both sports, and they are VERY different.

  4. Sorry, I’m way late on this, but your piece on the Bowhunter Cup got me thinking…
    I don’t think this would work out either.  A lot of goalie play comes to knowing your angles.  I’ve played field goalie (although not very well) but not box, but it seems like the angles and the basic approach would be different enough that switching back and forth would mean that you’re not going to excel at either.   

    • interesting points… I’m really basing this idea on the following anecdotal evidence:

      Last winter, we ran the first box league in NYC.  ALL of the goalies were field goalies, they all used the same pads and all had the same amount of time to develop their box games.  By the end of the season, the best goalies in our box league were also the best goalies in our field league.  They made the transition.

      So I would rather have a great keeper switch over to box and learn the game than have a decent box goalie.  The best field players are the best because they know how to work and they are blessed with natural ability.  The natural ability will still be there, and so will the work ethic.  I honestly think that set up gives us our best chance to find a great keeper.

  5.     The notion that experience at a particular kind of sports position precludes one from success at another kind of sports position is absurd. Being a field lacrosse goalie or an ice hockey goalie will not hamper you when attempting to be a box lacrosse goalie. The positions are all different. Just like riding a bike is different than driving a car; the fact that you are good at one does not mean you will suck at the other.
        Having played defense in front of both Mickey Hoover and Ginny Capicchioni regularly, as well as playing in front of many other accomplished goalies throughout the years like Chris Sanderson, Eric Miller, and Matt Roik, I can tell you that American goaltending is not too far from being ready for the world stage.
        As a vocal and cerebral defender I am in constant communication with the goalies. Capicchioni strikes me a particularly strong at understanding the box game. She sees thing several steps ahead. Mickey also understands the game at a high level and and is at his best when the five defenders in front of him are working together. Both Ginny and Mickey can stop the ball with the best of them.
        The problem in the U.S. right now is not personnel but rather experience. The U.S. came in third at the last World Cup, like they do at every World Cup. Why? Who finished above them? What do they have they that the U.S. does not? Simple. Experience. The Canadians have players who have played all of their lives, just like the Iroquios. Look who is charging up the ranks behind the U.S.; the Czechs. They play box lacrosse almost year round there and it shows. I participated in a youth clinic in the Czech Republic over 10 years ago. They were younger that any Americans I taught. Ironically, offensive star Petr Poupe was a box goalie then.
        If the U.S. wants to win the 2015 Cup they do need to crash course people like John Galloway. That will add to the competition and push the aforementioned goalies to greater heights. But the national team needs to commit to these goalies too. All prospects should be put with old school U.S. goalies like Frank Menschner. He is the common denominator between Hover and Capicchioni. He could help the squad be ready for next time. But that is not a long term solution.
        The long term solution is to have goalies with 10,000 hours experience. If you need an explanation of the “10,000 hour rule,” read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. The U.S. needs youth leagues to develop talent. U.S. Indoor Lacrosse needs to commit to it.  When American box goalies have that kind of experience there will be no more issues. When American players in general have that kind of experience there will be no more issues.
        There have been short term successes with youth leagues, in the Philadelphia area particularly, but nothing sustained. That is where USIL can have an impact. By providing well known national talent for clinics and tapping the aging local box lacrosse talent for coaching parents will be willing to put their kids in those leagues instead of other traditional sports.
        The goal of USIL there should be a nationally connected association. While the Canadian Minto Cup level is decades away, just having a National championship would be a great way to attract young athletes and coaches. The pieces are there, they just need to be put in place. Set the system up, let them play, and enjoy the results.