DREW ADAMS ADJUSTING TO LIFE IN GOAL IN THE MLL
By Derek McLean
It’s no easy task to try and stop constant laser fast shots with pinpoint accuracy. This is the job description of a Major League Lacrosse goalie. It can take years for some goalies to adjust to the game, some goalies find that they cannot handle it at all. However the Long Island Lizards have put the hopes of their 2010 season, on the shoulders of a player, who the team expects, will settle in right from the start.
On Saturday, May 15
th Long Island Lizards goalie Drew Adams started his first career game against the Chesapeake Bayhawks. The third round pick in the 2009 draft, spent his college years starring in net for the Penn State Nittany Lions. Against Chesapeake however, he made 18 saves on 31 shots, allowing 16 points to be scored. “These guys can pick a corner from anywhere on the field,” says Adams. “They do so without sacrificing any speed on the shot. The type of shots that you see, I have found pretty quickly, they are a lot different than what I’ve seen in college. “
The second start in Adams’ young career came against the Denver Outlaws at INVESCO field at Mile High. He made 11 saves on 23 shots on goal, allowing 13 points on a 13-10 loss. In both games Adams has made some highlight saves, but has been victimized by constant offensive pressure. “Drew Adams had a hell of a game,” Says Lizards General Manager Casey Hilpert, speaking specifically about the game against the Outlaws. “If you saw the tape, some of the saves he was making, were unbelievable.”
However Adams is not quite as impressed with the start of his early career. “I’d probably give myself a C- or a D+,” says Adams. “Not so hot so far.” Adams feels that his comfort level is part of the problem in his performance. The difficulty is trying to be comfortable with, not just his game, but the comfort in working with his teammates around him. “I think once I pick my game up and the guys on the field are more comfortable with what I bring to the table,” says Adams, “we’ll start to have more success as a team.”
Fortunately for Adams, he is surrounded by a veteran defensive group, led by 2004 MLL defensive player of the year, Nicky Polanco and Brian Spallina who has been in the league since 2001. Both of whom, are more than willing to work with the young net minder. “It’s great playing with those guys,” says Adams. “This being the first 2 games of my career this far, it’s easy for me to step in and play, having that defense in front of you.”
It’s not just the defenses skill and leadership which benefits Adams, but their general knowledge of the league. “Those guys have been in the league for years now and have gone through most things that are possible to go through,” Adams says. That knowledge is essential for the young net minder who is still learning how to handle, not just the struggles he encounters, but the successes as well.
For a goalie trying to adjust into Major League Lacrosse from college is not easy and comes with a few difficulties. One of the adjustments goalies need to make is handling the games speed. “The pace of the game is a lot faster,” says Adams. While the players he played against at Penn State were good, it is nothing like playing in the MLL. “Everyone in the MLL is all stars. So with the pace of the game, everyone on the field can hurt you.” Because of the games high tempo pace and the player’s elite skills, shots can come from any player at any time. “No matter if it’s the D- middie, to the opposing team’s best attackman, you have to be ready for everything,” says Adams. “Shots are coming from all angles at all times.”
Another adjustment is the unique rules of the league. Unlike college, Major League Lacrosse features the shot clock and two point line. “You’ll see a guy come down, make one move go to the goal and get a shot off,” Adams says. In college teams have the luxury of working the ball around, setting up their offense and waiting for their shot. In Major League Lacrosse, teams are forced to rush their offense and take shots from unexpected areas. ”I just need to get used to being on my toes at all times,” says Adams. “Always expecting a shot no matter who they are or where they are on the field.”
When players are taking shots at any given moment it makes it very difficult for a goalie to prepare for the shot. This is especially true when the players shooting the ball, are the best in the world. “They are putting it exactly where they want it. So that is something that I think has been difficult to adjust to, so far,” says Adams. “But I’ll keep working at it and I think I’ll be alright for the rest of the season. “
Although it is still early in his career, Adams has already gained the support and trust of both his teammates and management. Casey Hilpert thought last week’s performance was telling of what they will get out of Adams, He says, “I’m pretty confident that, if you can hold a team to 13 points in this league, you should win.” The support of the organization, Adams explains, has helped make adjusting to the league easier, “The guys on the team are always telling me to keep my head up and are supportive no matter what happens,” says Adams. “They let me know that they are confident with me in there, and that’s made it easy for me to get comfortable and just get confident in playing.”
On Thursday, Adams will face his biggest challenge yet against the Boston Cannons. With an offense led by last year’s Major League Lacrosse offensive MVP Paul Rabil, the Cannons attack is relentless, and has the ability to score early and often. However, Adams remains confident in the team and his own improvement, “Obviously Boston has a great lineup, but we feel like we do too,” says Adams. “We’re going to go into this week working on our own game. We’re going to worry about ourselves first.”
While adjusting to Major League Lacrosse is tough, Adams knows that he needs to continue to work hard and remain confident in his abilities. By doing this he knows he can help lead the Lizards both now and in the future. Lucky for him, he has a supporting cast, who will help him and encourage him along the way.