In two words, focused and disciplined. That’s how Penn men’s lacrosse senior goalkeeper Reed Junkin would describe himself.
“Focused in the sense [that] I’m focused on what I’m doing and [on] a goal that I’m trying to achieve,” Junkin said. “Along with that, I’m hardworking. I put in the extra effort to achieve what I want to do.”
On most teams, being a senior means becoming a leader on the team. For Junkin, this transition is natural: he has been preparing for this role since the very beginning of his Penn career.
Junkin was the starting goalie during his freshman year and has been ever since. He has started in 42 out of 43 games he's played in with an overall .507 save percentage. He has been a part of nearly all of Penn’s victories and losses, dependably standing in goal.
The senior goalie was intimidated to make his first start, he admitted. As a goalie, it’s his job to lead the defense and survey the entire field. This can be a lot to handle, especially for a freshman. Junkin attributes getting ahead of the learning curve to his teammates that helped him ease into his role.
“As a freshman, I came in [and] relied on the older guys to help me out, walk me through the defense, and command the defense as a whole,” Junkin said.
Over time, though, Junkin came to depend less on his teammates. Though his style of play hasn’t changed much over the years, he is definitely a different kind of player when it comes to leading the team, emphasized coach Mike Murphy.
Murphy instructed Junkin to be more vocal and confident on the field, which Junkin has made a concerted effort to do.
“I’ve become, I’d say, a bigger vocal leader on that end and have also been able to have a better understanding of the defense as a whole,” Junkin said. “The main thing that has improved is probably my command over the defense.”
Junkin’s role is vital: when he succeeds, everyone else on the field does too
“When he does his job at a high level, the whole team feeds off him. When he makes a big save on the other team’s best player, the whole team just kind of elevates,” Murphy said. “The guys in front of him playing defense start playing defense better. The guys on offense get more confident. It really does have a pretty big impact and ripple effect.”
The senior goalie's presence on the team has clearly impacted the team’s dynamic. He stressed that the team has a really positive culture this year, and he has already begun to help the younger players ease into their respective roles as his teammates did during his freshman year.
“We have a good senior class that’s been able to work with the freshmen [and] sophomores and bring them up without separating them from the team as a whole,” Junkin said. “I think everyone’s been pretty patient and helpful with our underclassmen, and I think that’s been a little different than in the past.”
The team, Junkin emphasized, spends a lot of time together off the field, solidifying the bonds they have formed as players. The senior’s diligence, cooperative spirit, and leadership have been an integral aspect of the team over the past four years. As they head into a new season, a leader like Junkin is exactly what the Quakers need.
Murphy emphasized that Junkin’s presence is one that will be missed.
“He’s been a guy that we’ve been able to depend on — kind of day-in day-out, week-in week-out — to not only save the ball but be the leader of our defense. He works extremely hard, and it shows.”
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