Your Edge: Maryland Defender Iliana Sanza's One-on-One Defense
What I Do
Try New Things
My sister Lidia was a goalie at F&M, but I never tried it until this summer at a Maryland camp. It was a legit camp with really good players, and we had three goalies for like 300 kids. So I said I'd do it. I was so cowed. I got hit a lot. I've never been scared of the ball as a field player, but when I was in the goal, I think I closed my eyes once the girl with the ball hit the 50. I have so much respect for our three goalkeepers.
Support My Teams
I love Maryland's women's basketball. I went to every single game this year. Alyssa Thomas is my favorite player. I love defense in basketball. Defense in lacrosse is pretty equivalent, just in a bigger space with more people. It's the same concepts – staying help side, seeing the ball. My parents are both huge soccer fans. My dad is from Spain and my mom is from Guatemala, and they both get up at 3 a.m. to watch FC Barcelona games. They both love Messi — my mom especially, because he's South American. When Spain won the World Cup, my dad went nuts.
I always have this mentality that I want to give the ball back to our midfielders. I'm not an attention-seeker. I'm not flashy. I like to be more subtle and under the surface. I love that people expect to score, and I love to stop that. People come to games to see goals scored. I like stopping them from doing what people want to watch.
I love playing against Katie Schwarzmann and Karri Ellen Johnson in practice. Both of them are so good at what they do, and I want to help them get better at it by making it difficult for them.
For home games, we all go to a bagel place. My order is a ham, egg and cheese wrap and a parfait. And I have to hear "Keep It Going Louder" by Major Lazer. It's been played probably 500 times on my iTunes.
A lot of people think if you check a lot, you're a bad defender. But defenders can still make that check and be fine with their positioning, as long as it's quick and under control. Just don't sacrifice positioning. You want to have the same foot positioning when you're making the check, and not put your whole body into it. Then you lose yourself, and that's probably a foul, and they'll be able to get by you. The second the attacker doesn't have her body between the ball and me, I'm going to go for the quick little check. But I'm still in front of her. I'm not throwing my body around or tomahawk checking. I'm just trying to get that little check. Even if you miss, it doesn't matter, because it's not a foul and she's not going to by me. I'm just going for that little check on the corner of the head to try to drop the ball.
This article appears in the June issue of Lacrosse Magazine, the flagship publication of US Lacrosse. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 400,000-plus members today to start your subscription.