April 24, 2008

Myers Jumps From Bench to Goal

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Like a younger brother who works hard to get an identity separate from that of his “perfect” older sibling, senior men’s lacrosse goaltender Jake Myers has worked hard this season to be a quality goalie in his own right and more than just a replacement for 2007 Ivy League Player of the Year Matt McMonagle ’07. After three years of diligently waiting in line, Myers got the nod at the start of the season and has never looked back.
“I probably started out a little slow, but I think I’ve been getting better and better,” Myers said. “I sat behind some qualified goalies both at Syracuse and here so I’ve learned a lot watching them and I’ve felt like I was ready to go and its been a fun year.”
[img_assist|nid=30184|title=Leaps and bounds|desc=After sitting on the bench at Syracuse and backing up Matt McMonagle ’07 last year, senior goalie Jake Myers (14) has taken the spotlight this season.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
As a senior who clinched the starting spot in goal for the first time in his college career, Myers has never taken for granted that in order to keep his position this year he has to maintain constant focus. With younger goalie hopefuls waiting on the bench for their chance, Myers also never forgets his responsibility to be a role model to them the way McMonagle was for him.
“The most challenging thing is just being consistent every weekend and every practice because, as a starter, you have people behind you looking up at you and also trying to steal your spot,” Myers said. “Not only do you have to show up in the games on Saturday but you have to show up every day and stay focused and always play well. It’s a long season and it’s hard to stay focused every day.”
A goalie, Myers explained, acts as the quarterback of the defense and has many more duties on the field than just stopping goals from sneaking past. Gaining the confidence to organize his teammates while simultaneously minding the net has been something that Myers has been working to improve upon throughout the course of the season.
“I think at the start of the year I was less vocal but learning from each week I’ve gotten more and more vocal,” Myers said, “because we do have the young defense and so everyone has to help each other.”
Unlike the stereotypical goalie personality, Myers is remarkably laid-back and generally unflappable in goal. This unusually relaxed attitude has been both a strength and a weakness of his goalie style, and he has made a concerted effort to help his teammates become acclimated to his atypical approach.
While his mellow presence inspires confidence in his teammates (who know that he will not crack if he lets in a goal or two), he is careful to make sure that his calmness is not mistaken for lack of passion or intensity.
“He’s a laid-back California kid, and I think that just enables him to have a strong presence within the goal. He’s never fazed,” said senior Danny Nathan. “That really helps him. He can miss a couple saves in a row, but there is no doubt in his mind that he can make that next save.”
Although Myers tends to believe that focusing on superstitions prior to a game can sometimes do more harm than good, carrying out the same pre-game routine helps him get focused for an important matchup. For example, Myers tries to lie down for a nap about two hours before start time on game day.
“I try to stay away from superstitions,” Myers said. “I just want to relax. If you get too caught up in superstitions, it sort of gets you all nervous before the game.”
In spite of a difficult loss to Princeton last weekend, Myers plans to remain unfazed in order to prepare himself for this weekend’s game and for the remainder of the season. His signature style should help him put the loss behind him and focus on notching his team another Ivy League win against Brown.
No matter what happens this season, Myers has done more than step into a spot left behind by McMonagle — he has commanded the respect and support of his teammates and created his own identity as the starting goalie.
“He’s gotten better every week, and he’s really been able to show his work ethic,” said Nathan, a short stick defensive midfielder. “He takes extra shots every week and puts in extra time. He’s made the effort to become a starting goalie, and he’s improved every single week.”