December 7, 2009

Video: F&M's Sanza on Free Position Shots

by Chris Snyder | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

This article (text below video) appears in the "Your Edge" section of the December issue of Lacrosse Magazine. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 300,000-plus members today to get these and more great tips every month.

When most coaches see their offense get an 8-meter shot after a foul they think one thing: goal!

Well not if you are facing goaltender Lidia Sanza of Franklin and Marshall. Sanza was the back bone of the 2007 and 2009 NCAA Division III champion Diplomats. With Sanza in net, the Diplomats have lost only three games in three years, and they are getting ready for a push to repeat in 2010.

As a junior in 2009, Sanza guided the Diplomats back to a thrilling 11-10 overtime victory over Salisbury in the NCAA final, and she did it with a smile on her face, which is the first thing you notice about this top goaltender.

“A lot of lacrosse goalies can be major head cases,” Sanza says. “They lose their focus after goals and are easy to get off their games. I try my best to stay up beat and positive between the pipes.

“Lacrosse is a high-scoring game and every shot is a chance for me to make a save, so I have to stay relaxed. We joke around and have fun as much as we can, and then when it is time to get serious we take care of business.”

With that kind of mindset, LM wanted to get some pointers on the most pressure-filled play for a goalie, defending an 8-meter shot.

Keys to Saving the 8-Meter Shot

1. Set up Your Defense
Assessing where your defenders are is the first thing you need to do in the 8-meter situation. Make sure you communicate who is going up on ball and who is taking control of the middle, so no extra opportunities come out of the 8-meter shot.

2. Stare Down the Shooter
Sanza looks for signs or tells from the shooter to tip her off where the shot is going. “Most shooters will look right at where they want to go, or will drop the stick if they are going to shoot low,” Sanza says. “I try to pick up on these things as the shooter gets set and prepares to drive in on the whistle.”

3. Get in Solid Position
Making sure your feet are set and up on the balls of you feet is important. If the shot is coming from the angle, have your inside foot in line with the middle of the shooter’s body. If the shot is coming from the top of the arc, be sure you are nice and square with the shooter and ready to step with her as she moves. The key to steps is half a step to every one step the shooter takes. This will keep you square to the shooter and able to keep a strong angle for the save.

4. Make the Save
Seeing the ball and making the save is the last and most important step of defending the 8-meter shot. You cannot save what you do not see, and looking the ball into your stick will help you limit rebounds or deflections. Be sure you get your eyes focused on the shooter’s stick and are thinking about nothing else on the shot. As a goalie, once the whistle blows your job is that ball staying out of the net; the defense takes care of the rest.

Hook, Line, and Sinker: Baiting the Shooter

One thing very unique to Sanza is how she will bait shooters that come from up top on the 8 meter.

Her position is slightly off center allowing the left side of the net to be more open, and more attractive to shooters as they drive. This is very different from most other goalies, because Sanza is a righty that baits you to shoot back to her left on the weak side.

Sanza explained, “I feel my first step to the left is so much faster than to my right,” Sanza says. “I am very comfortable giving up that side because I have such a good step to take away the net before they even know it is gone.”

How did this unorthodox style come to be?

“During freshman year, our team played a lot of left-handed goalies during the season,” she says. “I had to help the team and play lefty in practice to give our team experience shooting on a left-handed goalie. The thing that stuck with me was that quick step left, and now I like to bait people to my left side.”

Chris Snyder is the manager of coaches’ education and training at US Lacrosse. He previously was an assistant women’s lacrosse coach at Millersville University.

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