Welcome to something special: Position U. In this six-part series, your favorite college lacrosse lover, Ryan Conwell, will break down the NCAA DI men’s programs that can consider themselves the best at producing a given position in recent history. First, let’s get into who produces the best lacrosse goalies, a.k.a. Goalie U.
When trying to determine which schools have a reputation for producing the best players at a certain position, there are a number of factors that need to be considered. It’s easy enough to just create a list off the top of your head, but in an effort to try and be as objective as possible, I of course lean on my old friend: math! I needed to find a way to consistently note which players could be considered better than others while also doing so in a manner which could be calculated in some way.
The result was making a formula that took into account All-America votes (via USILA), Postseason awards, and also success at the Pro Level. For that last piece, I considered draft picks and rounds, but depending on the year, too many players get drafted and never play, or play a limited amount of time. So instead, I looked at All-Star rosters across the MLL and PLL to give an additional nudge.
The next question was how far back to look. Since we’re dealing with college, going beyond 4 years was a given. One great recruiting class does not mean your school is all of a sudden the best at producing defenders. We need a long enough trend to make a real pattern emerge. So, I went to 10 years, but the year 2020 kind of stuck out. Because, well, *you know why*. To make up for 2020’s lack of postseason awards and all-star games, I added 2011 to the mix as well. More is better, right?
The benefit of going all the way back to 2011 for pro all-star games is it gave some of those wily vets a chance to impact the rankings of their schools as well. That way there’s a small nod to the true history of a program in addition to the heavily weighted recent past. So mashing all these numbers together produced a list of the top programs to produce players at each position. Goalies are an odd position, much like the LSMs and FOGOs we already covered, because there are so few to deal with.
Even though the top spot was clear, the rest of the top 10 was heavily impacted by the career of one or two players who saw a ton of success. So, which lacrosse program have produced the best goalies in recent history and gets to lay claim as “Goalie U”?
GOALIE U: WHO HAS PRODUCED THE BEST Lacrosse GOALIES?
3: Albany & Brown
These two schools are both ones I knew should be on the list, but I honestly thought Albany had a real shot at the top spot. For Brown’s case, it actually has produced a few pro and All-American goalies, headlined by Jack Kelly. Joining him were Jordan Burke and more recently Phil Goss. What really allowed Brown to jump up this high in the rankings was Kelly winning Goalie of the Year in 2016, something the Albany goalies also did just once.
Speaking of the Danes, their pro accolades are really what vaulted them to this spot. As good as Blaze Riorden is as a pro (and he’s *really* good at that), he only had a single USILA All-American year in college. The Albany crew also got a boost from Brett Queener’s All-Star nods, as well as JD Colarusso’s Goalie of the Year and All-American honors.
2: Penn State
The funny thing? They’re on the list because of those two names – okay, and Colby Kneese. But it was mostly Austin Kaut making All-American every year he was in college (something almost no goalies have done) and also picking up the Goalie of the Year award in 2013. Meanwhile, Adams was an All-Star Game regular for years, which boosted the Penn State score even more.
Out of six categories, the Terps are bringing home their FOURTH Position U title with this distinction of producing the best goalies in men’s college lacrosse in recent history. Is it any question that this has been the most consistent team over the past decade at this point?
But when it comes to turning out goalies, this is not a mere “vote for the Maryland guy.” The Terps also had more Pro All-Star nods than any other school in this time frame. And to be honest, we just missed the window of Brian Dougherty being in the pro ranks, so it’s safe to assume that even going back further in time could have yielded the same results.
One of the big names that put Maryland on top was Brian Phipps, who was not only a 2011 All-Star but also in a starter in the PLL Championship Game this year. Alongside Phipps are other All-American and pro goalies Niko Amato, Kyle Bernlohr, Dan Morris, and Logan McNaney from this past season.
It’s safe to say that Maryland can reliably produce some pretty good keepers year in and year out.
Didn’t see who you thought you would up there? Here’s how the next bunch finished in our Goalie U standings, in order:
4: Johns Hopkins, Syracuse & Notre Dame
10: High Point & UMass
Position U Series
You can find the rest of the Position U series here, which includes Attack U, Defense U, Faceoff U, Midfielder U, LSM U, and Goalie U.