When the men’s lacrosse team learned that sophomore goaltender Kyle Miller — who was poised to take the starting position in the crease vacated by All-American Justin Cynar ’02 — had to return home to Orangeville, Ontario to be treated for bone cancer, a void between the pipes was created. Junior Brandon Ross has easily filled that void this season.
“I give Brandon a lot of credit,” said head coach Jeff Tambroni. “He was put in a position, an unexpected position, at the beginning of the year as a starting goalie, and has had a lot of eyes on him as to how he’s going to play and how he’s going to respond to the absence of Kyle Miller. He’s had some good days and some bad days, but I think his good days are certainly outnumbering his bad days.
“I think our team will go as far as Brandon will allow us, and that’s not to put pressure on Brandon as much as it is a compliment on Brandon’s performance. I think he’s done a good job in the last couple of weeks and has given us a chance to get back to our winning ways.”
Ross first donned a Red jersey after transferring from Washington and Lee a year ago. The Harwood, MD native attended the small, private St. Albans School, but decided he wanted a bigger school for college.
The next fall, Ross was on East Hill and playing with the Red lacrosse squad.
“The guys took me in right away,” Ross said of his adjustment. “That was the thing I noticed when I came to visit the school, it’s a really close knit team. I just enjoy being around the guys.”
The team bond that was so evident to Ross has continued now that he is on the squad, and this has helped him adjust to his new starting position. Although intimidating to be playing with one of the strongest defensive squads in the nation and succeeding an All-American keeper in Cynar, Ross has handled the pressure.
“It was really hard to follow Cynar, and even harder to play behind such great defense because they are the ones that are here now. The main thing at first was that I didn’t want to let them down because they have already established themselves. Last year they did really well and this year they are playing well, so I just didn’t want to mess up the chemistry of the whole defense.”
He admitted that it is a little scary, even nerve-racking, but having some real game experience has helped to build his confidence and improve his play.
Tambroni said, “I think to his credit he has been pretty consistent and driven to live up to the expectation of the void that was left by Justin Cynar and Kyle Miller, and he’s done a pretty good job of fulfilling his role as our starting goalie. I think our coaching staff has been most proud is that he has improved with each game and really worked at it. I feel that he has paid attention to detail and earned the respect of his teammates which has allowed him to be much more comfortable in goal.”
In 405 minutes of play, all but 15 minutes of this season, has a 9.04 goals against average and has made 72 saves for a .541 save percentage. Despite getting off to a shaky start, the team is currently 5-2 with Ross in net.
Senior tri-captain Ryan McClay said of his keeper, “I think that when Brandon stepped into the cage, we knew that we were going to get a quality goalie. But as the season has progressed, he has given us what we expected and more. He has been playing better each game and gaining more confidence and with each game I think guys have had more confidence in him.”
Confidence and game experience have been important factors in his improved play since the beginning of the season
“Brandon came back after Christmas, and he has really stepped up,” explained sophomore attackman Sean Greenhalgh. “He was a good goalie, but now he is a great goalie. He has just been getting better and better with each game. And having such a strong goalie makes the defense a little more confident and the offense a little more confident, because we know that we have a guy like Brandon back there who can make a big save for us.”
Since the beginning of the season, Ross has continued to improve, posting an impressive performance in the 9-8 victory over Penn State March 15. Ross had 18 saves in the win.
“It’s really been a learning experience,” says Ross of the season. “Each practice, Coach has a new thing for me to work on which is great. He is great, he doesn’t let me sit and say ‘Good job Brandon.’ It’s ‘Good job, but