One goalie down but lax not out
Casey to have season-ending surgery, but team will move forward against Crimson
April 16, 2010, 1:08 am · Updated April 16, 2010, 12:00 am·
Standing in the line of fire day after day will inevitably take its toll on a lacrosse goalie.
Such is the case for Penn senior Chris Casey, who will no longer play between the pipes in front of Red and Blue fans.
After taking a pre-game shot off the hand then playing injured the second half at Cornell, Casey will reportedly have surgery to repair torn ligaments and a fracture in his thumb.
“Finally, he was going the right way, and everything was looking good,” said Penn defensive coordinator Brian Dougherty. “The crappy weather was behind us, and it was starting to get nice out and all of a sudden — boom.”
Dougherty — recognized as the best goalie in the game during his NCAA and professional years — understands how taxing Casey’s position is, but also notes the importance of having sophomore Joe Hegener become the full-time backstop at this point in his career.
“We’re still looking for him to keep it going these last couple games and try to gain momentum,” Dougherty said. “Not only to win these next two … but to carry momentum into next year and solidify himself.”
Hegener has already racked up significant experience tending the Quakers’ net. After making eight starts as a freshman, the San Diego native has played in all but one of Penn’s contests this season, taking over the duties full-time since Casey was injured.
And in order to stop a potent Harvard attack duo, tomorrow Hegener will need to use all of that experience.
Penn (4-7, 0-4 Ivy) hosts No. 17 Harvard (5-4, 1-2) this weekend in a familiar Ancient Eight battle.
The Crimson have won four of the last five contests, but it was just two years ago that the Quakers stunned then-No. 10 Harvard at home.
Attacks Jeff Cohen and Dean Gibbons lead their club with 24 and 21 goals, respectively. While scoring is nothing new for these two — Cohen led the team with 34 goals as a freshman — Penn coach Mike Murphy is convinced his team will be prepared defensively.
“On [defending against their] attack, we’re very lucky that we have two very good close defensemen, cover guys Brett Hughes and Brandon Saxon,” Murphy said. “There are not a lot of teams out there that have a pair of attackmen that can run by them.”
Hegener agreed with his coach, noting the defense’s need to contain Crimson offensive outbursts.
“What we’ve got to stop are their runs. … That’s how they beat you,” Hegener said. “We’re going to try to match their intensity when they turn it on.”
Regardless of how they do it, the Quakers need to find an answer for late-game play.
The Red and Blue have been outscored 31-41 in the fourth quarter this season.
Murphy noted a need for poise and better decision-making in the waning minutes of games.
“I think it’s more psychological than it is physical or tactical. Guys start to press, … do things that are uncharacteristic.”
“For some reason we just go running around like chickens with our heads cut off,” Dougherty added.