6/17/10 2:59 PM
By Redmond Zmudzien
It took three years before Scott Rodgers became the full time starter and standout goalie for Notre Dame. He doesn’t plan on waiting around to make his mark at the professional level though.
Rodgers was drafted in the second round of the Major League Lacrosse Collegiate Draft by the Toronto Nationals Sunday June 6 at No. 7 overall. Six days later Rodgers made his MLL debut, coming up with 19 saves and allowing only six goals in 45 minutes in between the pipes. Rodgers was only expected to play in the first half, but after Brett Queener was taken out due to injury he was thrown in for the extra minutes. The rookie says that Queener has played the role of classy veteran helping show him the ropes.
“The best advice [Queener] gave me was ‘listen there’s a 60 second shot clock so you know a shot’s coming at some point in a minute.’ That’s where it’s a little different from college as far as a team can hold the ball for two or three minutes and then try to do something and you get kind of bored out there,” Rodgers said. “As a goalie [in the MLL] you know you’re seeing a shot in 60 seconds so we're getting the ball back.”
After a dominating run in the NCAA tournament Rodgers stepped into the professional ranks without missing a beat. Rodgers stopped shots from snipers like Chesapeake’s Kyle Dixon and Peet Poillon, while also snuffing out shots from his own doorstep. The rookie used every bit of his 6’4” 254 lbs frame to keep his opposition out of the cage. Rodgers and Toronto eventually fell to Chesapeake 10-9 in his debut, but the rookie made a strong first impression on the rest of the league.
Before he made his professional debut, Rodgers led Notre Dame to the NCAA title game. Along the way the Irish scored upset victories over lacrosse powerhouses Princeton, Maryland and Cornell by scores 8-5, 7-5, and 12-7.
The Irish goalie continued his string of dominant performances in the National Championship game against top ranked Duke. In the end the Blue Devils came out on top in overtime 6-5, breaking the hearts of ND fans, but Rodgers still held the best offense in the nation to a mere six goals. “It was like too easy when I was in the National Championship game,” the former Irish goalie said. “I had one of my better games and we lost.”
The Toronto goalie knows it will take games like that week in and week out in order to compete at the pros.
“It’s one of the things where I’m happy that I adjusted to the speed of the game [in the MLL] and the shots well and I didn’t get lit up, but we needed a W and I think that’s what the main goal is right now,” Rodgers said.
In 2010 Rodgers led the entire nation in save percentage at a .605 clip. He was also third in the nation in goals against average at 7.56 per game. Becoming the best goalie in the country wasn’t easy for Rodgers, especially after having to sit on the bench while another All-American goalie, Joey Kemp, protected the cage for the Irish. Kemp was a first-team All-American at Notre Dame, so playing time was sparse for Rodgers. Rodgers even red-shirted his junior season while Kemp manned the cage and won the Kelly Award for the best goalie in Division I.
When Rodgers did finally get the full time gig in 2009, he showed exactly why the Irish had recruited him out of MacArthur High School in Wantagh, N.Y. Rodgers burst onto the scene and became a brick wall for Notre Dame. He took over and never looked back, leading the nation in goals against average (6.14) and save percentage (6.63). His 6.14 GAA is a Notre Dame program record.
The pedigree is there and his resume is full of awards, all-star appearances and the all too often underestimated perseverance. Having to ride the bench for three years only made Rodgers appreciate the opportunities he was given that much more. When given the chance, he has shown he is one of the best at his craft. Now given the shot to start for the Toronto Nationals, Rodgers doesn’t plan on letting an opportunity go to waste. He never has.
2010 Major League Lacrosse Championship Weekend presented by Warrior
August 21-22, Annapolis, MD
For information and tickets go to www.majorleaguelacrosse.com