Richardson changes stance in net, finds success despite decrease in minutes
Margaret Line | Staff Photographer
Kelsey Richardson was the only option.
Growing up, her two older, lacrosse-playing brothers, who both played attack presented her with a problem.
There was no goalie for them to shoot on. So they had her suit up and stand in the goal in their front yard and save their shots.
“It was a challenge and it was fun,” Richardson said. “I think it definitely helped me now because they shoot a lot harder than some of the girls that I face now.
“I fell in love with it.”
Richardson has carried that passion to Syracuse, where she is one of the Orange’s two starting goalies alongside Alyssa Costantino.
After playing more minutes and earning All-Tournament honors last year, Richardson is playing less and taking a different strategy to the net this season. But she’s adjusted well and compiled a .380 save percentage while helping to captain a strong defense for No. 3 Syracuse (11-1, 3-1 Atlantic Coast), which will look to continue its hot start at Virginia Tech (6-5, 0-3) on Saturday.
“Kelsey’s always really well prepared,” SU defender Mallory Vehar said. “She knows the personnel, knows where to go. Has great vision. That’s a big thing the goalie has an advantage of is kind of seeing the entire field from the goal.”
SU head coach Gary Gait and assistant coach Brett Queener came to Richardson about changing her approach in goal this season. They looked at where they were at and the direction the team was headed, and decided that an adjustment needed to be made.
So they had Richardson step out more to take away shooters’ angles. In doing so, Gait hoped that Richardson would force shooters to either hit the top corner of the cage or have to step around the goalie.
“I appreciate players that two, three years into it that are willing to make adjustments to their game,” Gait said. “Kelsey’s one of them and she’s done a great job.”
In Saturday’s win against Duke, Richardson came in for the start of the second half and held the Blue Devils scoreless for more than 14 minutes. Her play helped propel the Orange on an 8-1 run to put the game out of reach.
But even with her strong play — against Duke and on the season — she’s been forced to share the in-goal duties with Costantino. They both tend to play half the game, with the starter role changing game-to-game.
“I’ve learned to always be ready, and always come prepared,” Richardson said. “Always prepare like I’m starting, and if I don’t, just be ready whenever I get the chance.
“It’s definitely been challenging at times.”
But despite mending her approach and sharing the goal more than she did last season, Richardson has played well. Gait, who has employed the two-goalie system for a few years, doesn’t have any plans to change it with his team sporting one of the nation’s top records.
Richardson said all she cares about is doing her job once her name is called, and stays prepared by practicing against some of the country’s best attacks. She often bounces ideas off of SU’s leading scorer Kayla Treanor, and gives her advice in return.
And even if it’s hard to defend against their scoring ability, the practice experience has helped her make tactical and mental adjustments, and excel in games.
“It’s definitely easier to get to know the player’s tendencies once you’re with them all year round,” Richardson said. “We have some of the best shooters in the country and I think that only helps us as goalies to get even better and make big saves in big games.”
Published on April 3, 2014 at 4:33 am