In field lacrosse
, the goalkeeper
, also referred to as goalie or keeper, is the last line of defense between the opposing offense and his team's goal. The primary role of the goalkeeper is to defend opposing team's shots on goal. The other main role of the goalkeeper is to direct the defense since he has the best view of the field. The goalkeepers are the only ones on the field who can touch the ball with his hands, although he is not allowed to pick up or control the ball with his hand. Each team is required to have a goalkeeper on the field at all times during a game. If a goalie receives a penalty, another goalie must go onto the field until the penalty is released.
A goalkeeper is required to wear certain protective gear. Every goalie must wear gloves
, a chest protector, a helmet
, and a throat guard. Most goalies wear specialized gloves that have small plate in the thumb to help prevent the thumb from breaking on a shot, as this is a common injury among lacrosse goalies. In women's lacrosse, thigh pads, shin guards, and elbow pads are commonly used. In men's lacrosse, a protective cup is required for all players. Although some do, few men's lacrosse goalkeepers choose to option padding like elbow pads, thigh pads, or shin guards for the reason that the extra padding restricts movement making it harder to save the ball. A large amount of goalkeepers do elect to wear sweatpants though as an alternative. The goalie also uses a stick different from those of the other positions on the field. The goalie stick's head is significantly larger than that of a field player's head to aid in saving the ball. The goalie's shaft can range from 30 inches long to 40 inches long depending on personal preference. Most keepers' heads are strung differently, so if a keeper breaks the head of his stick he will often have a replacement that has already been broken in.
The goalie's role on the field is to prevent the ball
from going into the goal. He must use both his stick
and his body to block shots. For this reason, a goalkeeper must be able to resist pain caused by shots capable of reaching over 100 MPH striking exposed skin. Along with a high pain tolerance, a goalie must also be mentally tough since lacrosse is a high scoring game and goals can be scored in quick succession. The goalie must also be the loudest player of the field so he can direct the defense so they can play the man and not worry about where the ball is on the field. In a win, a goalie receives much of the credit even if he did not play well. But in a loss, a goalie must also shoulder the blame.
Running the Clear
One of the most important and overlooked quality of a good goalie is his ability to run the clear. When the goalie saves the ball or the defense forces a turnover, the goalie must direct the defense up the field to the other teams restraining box. If the goalie saves the ball cleanly and gains possession, he must decide how to run the clear. He can either pass it upfield to a midfielder, pass it short to a defender to either run it upfield or pass it again, or the goalie can opt to run it upfield himself until he finds an open man. It is the goalie's responsibility to take advantage of the fact that on a clear, the clearing defense has one more player than the now defending offense. Due to the 7 on 6 advantage when a goalie takes the ball up, it is often used.
Managing the Defense
The goalkeeper is responsible for letting the defenders know where the ball is on the field, when to slide off their man and defend another offensive player, and also when to check. Common ball position calls include, as if facing the opposing half and turning clockwise: "top center", "top right", "side right", "pipe right or right," "back right", "X or back center", "back left", etc. Common command calls include "slide", "hold", "fire", "recover", "clear", "check", etc.
The goalkeeper is capable of receiving all of the fouls on the field plus an individualized one called Time Delay, which is assessed when the Goalie is in possession of the ball for more than the allotted time while in the crease or fails to clear the ball in the allotted time. The goalkeeper has 4 seconds to get ball out side of the crease and the rest of the team has to put the ball into play down field in past the middle line within 16 seconds. Otherwise it is a turnover to the other team at the top of the box.
Notable Field Lacrosse Goalkeepers
Greg Cattrano holds the NCAA record for goals scored by a goalie with a total of three. Brian Dougherty holds the record as a three time Major League Lacrosse Goaltender of the Year Award
winner. Greg Cattrano is the only goaltender the have won the Major League Lacrosse MVP Award