The goalkeeper position is the backbone and last line of your defense. It takes a unique and talented individual to play the position. It is a position that can require extreme pressure at times and requires important mental and physical skills.
Tewksbury Memorial High has three keepers in their 2010 fall sports who are having great seasons.
Rachel Pendleton (field hockey), junior Alex Bouthot (boys soccer) and sophomore Rebecca Davies (girls soccer) have provided the type of work in net that teams can build championships around. As a result, for the first time, all three squads qualified for post-season play.
To be a keeper, you have to have a different mental approach to the game. You have to have quick reflexes and not be afraid to take a ball of your body. Some may also say that playing goalie requires a "unique" personality to tackle the position.
"I think to be a good goalie you need good footwork and to be a little crazy, " Pendleton said. "You can't be afraid of the ball."
Boys soccer coach Steve Levine has studied the keeper position for 35 years and has learned from some of the highest-regarded positional coaches in the country.
"Goalkeeping is made out to be something different by many coaches, but in reality what it is a a well-skilled field player who not only can be like a regular soccer player, but also have the ability to use his or her hands." said Levine.
"Our best keepers were also outstanding field players and that is where you look for your team keeper," Levine said. "First, you need an individual who is well versed in the understanding of the game of soccer. Second, you need an individual who has no fear of using his or her body physical."
Tewksbury girls soccer coach Kelly Barrio lauded the importance of her keeper Davies.
"She has been fantastic all year," Barrio said after Davies posted her eighth shutout of the season in a 4-0 win over Haverhill.
The sophomore has stepped up big in the Redmen's run winning the MVC Small division championship.
"Rebecca is so solid back there," said Barrio. "I have so much confidence in her that it allows me to focus more on other parts of the game."
Levine also has the same confidence in Bouthot, who he sees as having the potential to be one of the best to ever wear a Redmen goalie uniform.
"Alex Bouthot is especially strong mentally and that is what makes him so good," said Levine. "He is not physically intimidating, but is very quick and agile. To say the least, I am very proud of his efforts as he should be of himself. He has a 1.00 goals against average so far in 16 games and is almost individually responsible for us having the season we are having."
Pendelton was a shutout machine this season as well and helped lead the Redmen to another postseason birth. She has been a rock in net and has only been playing goalie since her freshman year in high school.
"Freshman year, I started playing goalie because at camp in the summer I liked the position and my cousins were begging me to play," Pendleton said. "I just liked it better than the regular field positions."
Pendleton's strong play and leadership has also helped the development of sophomore backup Riley Ryan, who has also seen her share of time in net this season.
Pendleton turned in another solid game Wednesday in the opening round of the Division 2 North Tournament against Georgetown. Unfortunately, the offense came up empty against the Royals and the Redmen were eliminated, 1-0.
Davies and Bouthot are hoping for better fortune when the soccer teams start their playoff runs this weekend. Pairings for the first round will be announced Thursday.