Despite having a big role to play on Lehigh’s men’s lacrosse team, freshman goalie Adam Sawicki has stepped in without a hitch this spring.
Sawicki, a goalie with a list of impressive honors from high school, has been given the opportunity to play due to the injury problems of senior goalie Matt Poillon. Poillon, a three-time All-American, has been out due to a double hip surgery he had during the offseason.
Filling the shoes of such an important and quality player is not easy, but coach Kevin Cassese has had nothing but praise for Poillon’s performances.
“Adam stepped in for Matt beginning in the second half of the Villanova game and has played incredibly well,” Cassese said. “For a freshman to step into the spot he did, and replace the caliber of goaltender in Matt that he did and to play so well, has been remarkable.”
Fellow teammate Kevin Dougherty, a sophomore defender, also had positive things to say about the performances Sawicki has put in this year.
“There is no drop-off in performance,” Dougherty said. “He has handled it really well. Coming in as a freshman, he has a maturity and competitiveness beyond his years.”
Sawicki’s performance statistics also reflect this positivity. His goals against average is 9.22, which would be in the top 30 nationally if he qualified statistically. To be shown in the NCAA’s official rankings keepers must play 60 percent of the team’s minutes.
Shot stopping is one of Sawicki’s strengths, according to Cassese. He said Sawicki is a technically sound ball stopper who has good stick work, decision-making ability and communication skills.
Sawicki also agreed that both shot stopping and communication were key parts of his game, but he was quick to give credit to his teammates, as well.
“I think that our defense, with Casey (Eidenshink) and Tripp (Telesco) have done a really good job of giving me shots I can see,” Sawicki said. “I think the way our defense works, it allows me to save shots that are savable.”
Sawicki has also tried to be mentally prepared to play and he trained for each game as if he expected an opportunity.
“Coach thankfully gave me the opportunity to be the backup, and Petey (Poillon) has been recovering from hip surgery pretty much this whole year so he told me to be ready,” Sawicki said.
Having a senior goalie like Poillon has also been helpful for Sawicki in his new role. Sawicki credits Poillon, saying that he is a great mentor on and off the field, and that he really knows how to play the game.
Sawicki’s numbers have also been very comparable to Poillon’s, with Sawicki earning a .494 save percentage, which is slightly lower than Poillon’s .500. His goals against average is also lower than Poillon’s.
Looking forward, Sawicki said he has been working on a few things specifically to improve upon his game.
“I’ve really just focused on stopping the ball and not thinking too much,” Sawicki said. “In a position like goalie it can be kind of a mind game, especially when you don’t know every game whether you’re going to be starting or not.”
In the past two games, Sawicki has played in half of each game, starting the game against Colgate University and coming in for the second half of the win against Princeton University.
Sawicki has also tried to take every game as if he will be starting. With a few tough opponents left to play in the regular season, including a home game against Lafayette College, he said he hopes to finish the season strong and use his momentum to make a deep run in the playoffs.