May 31, 2010

Irish's Rodgers Laments the One That Got Away

by Paul Ohanian | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

BALTIMORE, Md. -- No matter how successful they are, all fishermen and goalies seem to have one thing in common: it’s all about the one that got away.

Notre Dame’s Scott Rodgers turned in one of the best final four performances ever crafted by a goalie. Playing on the sport’s grandest stage, he recorded 16 and 15 saves in back-to-back games to help lead his unseeded Irish to the brink of a national championship. His virtually unparalleled display between the pipes was a sight to behold over two games.

But it all came crashing down in the span of five seconds, as Duke’s long pole C.J. Costabile won the overtime faceoff, scooped the ball, then beat two defenders to the cage before launching the championship winner over Rodgers’ right shoulder into the back of the net.

Just that quickly, it was over, and Rodgers’ lasting memory will be the one that went by.

“You don’t want [to face] the shot that they had,” said Rodgers, “a shot on a fast break where the shooter has an opportunity to get his hands free.”

Despite that goal, the 6-foot-4 senior was such a standout over two games at M&T Bank Stadium that he became just the fourth player from a losing team to win the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award. The only other time a losing goalie has claimed the award, as selected by the media, was in 1995, when Brian Dougherty received the honor for runner-up Maryland against Syracuse.

“It’s a great honor, especially with the kind of season we had,” Rodgers said shortly after the game. “Awards like that are good in the end, but we fell one goal short in a game that we were in, so it just hurts right now.”

Rodgers, from Wantagh, N.Y., had waited three years for his opportunity, playing behind three-time All-American goalie Joey Kemp. When Rodgers, a team captain, finally got his chance as the starter in 2009, he made the most of it, earning third team All-America honors as well as the Great Western Lacrosse League’s Player of the Year award.

“He was an influential guy on our team even when he wasn’t playing because of his work ethic and competitive nature,” said Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan. “When he got the chance to play, he came up big. He was phenomenal.”

This year, Rodgers ranked third nationally in goals against average (7.74) while anchoring one of the nation’s top defensive units.

In the postseason, he posted 14 saves against Princeton and eight against Maryland in the national quarterfinals. Those games simply set the stage for his exploits on the season’s final weekend.

“I was up for the challenge,” said Rodgers. "I kind of got in a zone, which is a good feeling to have. The ball kind of slows down and I just felt good.”

Duke coach John Danowski was quick to credit Rodgers and the Irish defense for their outstanding effort.

“Those kids defensively were phenomenal on the ball and phenomenal as a unit,” he said. “When we did get an opening, Scott Rodgers was terrific.”

Notre Dame defenseman Kevin Ridgway said that Rodgers has been a source of confidence all season for the rest of the squad.

“It’s a great feeling to have him back there,” said Ridgway. “You know you have a safety net behind you. He’s been there to support this team and give us confidence all year. Scott’s been a huge asset. He will be a big loss next year.”


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