Fighting adversities in goal:

Fighting adversities in goal:


The boys shuffled into the computer lab in the North building after a long day of school. Coach Rick Becker flipped on the film from last night’s game and lectured the team on what had to change for tomorrow’s game. 


   After not seeing the field last night, backup goalie, Jr. Ian Geiersbach sat in the film session free to let his mind wander. He blankly stared out of the window to his left and watched students’ cars empty the bleak parking lot. His thoughts wandered to ways he could play more, and suddenly his mind went to taking the face-off. He decided that after the film session, he would ask Becker if he could take some face-offs.


   Startling his daydreaming, Becker’s phone rang, and the film stopped. Becker walked to the desk in the corner of the computer lab to answer the call. Little did Geiersbach know, that call meant he would get the playing time he was desiring… starting tomorrow.


   Tuesday, April 19, the boy’s varsity lacrosse team was hit with startling news. Their starting goalie had tested positive for COVID antigens. The day before an important game. The day before they played Spring Lake. 


   Jr. defender Will Truttman said, “In my high school career, we never beat Spring Lake. We knew they had a talented team, and that it was going to be a tough game.” 


   Geiersbach had to step into the cage on April 20th and fill the hole left behind. 


   Prior to playing Spring Lake, Geiersbach had only stepped into goal for one game this season. Geiersbach only played for the last quarter and a half against Grand Rapids Christian – a team they beat 18-3.  


  “I did pretty well against Grand Rapids Christian. I had three saves, but I only cleared the ball successfully once,” Gereirsbach said.


   Geiersbach was more nervous to play against Spring Lake than he was to play Grand Rapids Christian. “I was quite a bit nervous. When it’s a more competitive game and not a blowout game I play in, it’s definitely more pressure. I came into the game thinking that Spring Lake was going to be a really good team. I also played badly in practice the day before, so I just assumed the other players were going to be nervous about me getting in too.”


   Despite a rough practice the day before the game, the team was only supportive. Geiersbach said, “My teammates were super supportive of me playing and hyped me up before the game, which was important because playing goalie is a mental game. You need to be in the right mindset before you step onto the field, so it was really important that my teammates were so supportive.”


   The Panthers played Spring Lake on a cold and windy Tuesday. Despite the cold, the game got heated right away. The score was back and forth the first half of the game, and at halftime, the score was tied 6-6. The pressure was on, and Geiersbach didn’t hold back. 


   Geiersbach had three clutch saves in the third quarter to jump-start WO’s lead. 


   His first save was one that no one expected him to stop. “There was a shot in the third quarter that was an inside close shot. It was going to the five hole (between my legs), and I made a great save despite the shot being fast and close,” Geiersbach said. 


   After that impressive save, the team had much needed momentum. “I had another save where one of Spring Lake’s best players was dodging down the middle of the field and took a low shot and I dove on the ground to save it,” Geiersbach said. 


   His final save of the third quarter was ‘pure luck’ according to Geiersbach. “Another save I had was where the player shot a bounce shot, and I just barely saved it with the butt end of my stick.” 


   Geiersbach and the defense shutout Spring Lake in the 3rd quarter, outscoring them 5-0.


   Geiersbach out-performed all expectations, leading the Panthers into their first win against Spring Lake in a long time. Even more impressively, by seven goals; the Panthers won 15-8. 


   Geiersbach saved 14 out of 22 shots, rounding out at a 64% save percentage—which in a game where shots fly at the goalie at an average of 70-80 mph—is outstanding. 


   After a stellar game against Spring Lake, Geiersbach was ready to take on Grand Rapids Catholic Central (GRCC)–another game that would be a tough fight. 


   The boys went into the game blind but knew the team was top-ranked. Geiersbach said, “We didn’t know what to expect with GRCC because we didn’t really have film or anything, but from past experience, we knew it wouldn’t be a blowout game.” 


   Geiersbach was feeling confident after a great first game and his confidence stayed high against GRCC. Geiersbach saved the shots he was expected to and only let in the shots that no one expected him to save. “I was feeling pretty confident during the game because most of their goals were right on the crease and super close, so I wasn’t really expected to save those, and the rest of the shots that were further away I was able to save,” Geiersbach said. 


   Although excelling in saves, a goalie’s job on the field is more than just saving the ball. A goalie must also clear the ball down the field after he stops a shot. Geiersbach acknowledges he needs to work on his clears.  “My clears were not looking very good. I was most concerned about working on those for the game since I’ve only had about a 30% clear rate.” 


   The Panthers beat GRCC 17-13. Geiersbach saved 17 out of 30 shots with a 56% save percentage. 


   After clutching the win Thursday night, the boys got ready for their next game. The following Saturday, the team would take on Kenowa Hills.


   The Kenowa Hills boys lacrosse team was only a year old. Since lacrosse is such a new and fast-growing sport, it was quite common that many schools’ teams were inexperienced. 


   Geiersbach said, “I came into the game really confident. I knew that this game I could really work on clears and improve my skills since it wouldn’t be a tough game.” 


   In addition to working on his own skills, Geiersbach worked on developing the second string of defenders. “When we played GRCC, our three starting players played the whole game, so when it comes to our backup line, they don’t have much game experience. Since they got quite a bit of playing time in this game, I got to give directions, talk through different situations, and help them learn as much as I could during the game. 


   The boys won 21-2. Geiersbach only let in two out of six goals with another outstanding save percentage at 66%. 


   In Geiersbach’s next two games he continued to produce outstanding save percentages and was vital in the Panthers’ success. The Panthers beat Reeths Puffer 16-5, and Geiersbach saved 9 out of 14 shots – a 64% save percentage. The following game, the starting goalie was finally back to practice but wasn’t able to play in a game. Thus, Geiersbach took to the field to take on Grand Haven. At the half, the Panthers were down 11-1 with a running clock, but came back to win 16-5. 


   On April 30, Geiersbach stepped on the field for his final game against Caledonia.


   Geiersbach rounded out the season with his best game yet; he had 16 saves and only let in six goals. Geiersbach’s save percentage topped all of his save percentages thus far at 73%.


   “Against Caledonia, I definitely had my best game of the year. In the first quarter, I saved every shot they took and I could tell that was really making them frustrated,” Geiersbach said. 


   Caledonia’s frustration continued to grow when Geiersbach saved shots that were super close to the goal and should have gone in. For example, in the second quarter, one of Caledonia’s midfielders had a fast break down the field and had a wide open shot straight on goal that Geiersbach saved. Geiersbach said, “I heard him say ‘ugh, come on man’ after I saved his shot.”


   Becker commented on Geiersbach’s outstanding performance in the game recap. “Ian Geiersbach had 16 saves in goal to spark the dominant Panther defense.” 


   Over the course of the six games Geiersbach was in goal, the team was undefeated. While in goal, Geiersbach also helped the team grow their win streak to an impressive eleven-game streak. Despite the adversities COVID has caused, the boys have fought back even harder – especially Geiersbach. 


   The boys are on track to continue dominating the rest of their games this season. Come out and support the team as they wrap up their season.