They always say a goaltender has to be nuts. After all, how many people do you know want to get in front of a 100 miles per shot coming at you at all different angles.
At least in hockey, a goaltender has all the equipment to help soften the blow. It’s still insane, but not that insane. A lacrosse goalie doesn’t have a lot of protection when they stand in front of a shot that is going right toward their head, but at the last seconds changes direction.
A lacrosse goalie has to have cat-like quickness to be able to stop the ball. They have to be able to read the shot off the shooters stick. Are they going low, high are they going to try and bounce in low to high?
These are some of the questions a goaltender asks them selves. They also have to have a short memory. Goaltenders will let up goals, some may let up more than others.
Either way, a goaltender has to have a short memory. They can’t get down on themselves in they let in a goal, and they can’t get high on themselves either. It’s a delicate balance they have to play in their minds.
Lancaster High School’s Ben Mazur knows all too well what it’s like to be a goaltender in a really tough division. On any given day, Mazur could be the hero or the goat depending on his play.
It’s a lot easier to blame the goaltender than it is to blame the defender or a midfielder. Lancaster plays in an unforgiving division with both Orchard Park and Clarence.
Mazur knows the way he acts on the field will go along way in the way his team reacts during the game.
“Believe it or not, the hardest part of being a goalie isn’t stopping a hard ball traveling close to a hundred miles an hour. The hardest part is not being overcritical of yourself and bouncing back. The most successful goalies have the shortest memories, because it’s all about making the next save. The combination of holding yourself to a high standard while at the same time focusing on the next save is something I’ve got better with as I matured, with the help of Dallas Meyers. He’s like my personal sports psychologist haha. There are times in practice when I focus too much on organizing the defense and not enough on the ball and also times where I focus too much on the ball and our communication struggles,” explained Mazur. “You serve as an example for your teammates and if things get tough you can’t show you’re struggling, or your teammates will sense it.”
His cool demor on the field is what makes him such a good leader. Leaders should be showing an example for their teammates. The team needs someone to look to when things aren’t going as well as they should be.
A good leader just doesn’t wear a ‘C’. A good leader can rally the team when they are down. A good leader can get the team to achieve things they thought they could never achieve.
“I am both a vocal leader, and one who leads by example. In practice and games, I encourage my teammates and try to serve as an example for my program. I usually let my play do the talking in games, but at the same time I quip in a comment when needed,” stated Mazur. “I take pride in being a captain, and I believe I can use my improving leadership skills into improving our team this year This year it will be different without fellow captains Garrett Bartella and Tyler Balsavage, I’ve been playing with them and looking up to them for the past four years.”
School have taken notice of the skills being possessed by Mazur both on the off the field. It just isn’t sports all the time for Mazur, he also is a top student at Lancaster. College coaches like a person who is a well-wounded individual. That would certainly be Mazur.
Mazur has taken such pride in his game that he was being recruited at an early age. Lacrosse recruiting is getting earlier and earlier. Coaches want a commitment right away – as early as eighth grade.
It puts a lot of pressure on a middle school or even high school freshman since they have to decide their future before they even turn 15-years old. That’s why so many student-athletes are starting to despise the process.
Asking a 15-year-old to decide his future is asking a lot. At least Mazur had someone to go through the process with. His girlfriend, Julia Kurowski, has committed to play Division I volleyball at Colgate University.
“Although the recruiting process ended as a success with me, it was very stressful for me since I was so young. I understand it’s a business for coaches, but it’s very tough as a kid to know what you’re going to want to do when you’re older. Due to my thumb injury and not playing in a lacrosse hotbed like Long Island or Philly it was tough,” explained Mazur. “Coach Burke always said goalie is the hardest position to recruit since coaches only watch for a couple minutes at a time, when there may be a defensive breakdown, routine save, or the ball being in the other end. Fortunately, Canisius was able to see me multiple times, and I’m so happy that they decided on me as their goalie for the class of 2018. Now, I’m very happy with the situation now since I feel like I’m in the right place, it was just a lot of pressure at the time when you see many other kids committing across the country. I couldn’t have done it without the help of coach Hudecki, coach Burke, coach Mike Wright, and my parents.”
Even with his commitment to Canisius in tact, Mazur was still making sure he was working his game. Mazur just doesn’t want to sit on the bench when he arrives for fall ball.
Mazur wasn’t to make an impression on the coaching staff that he is the right person for the job. The only way he can do that is by working has hard as he can during the offseason.
It doesn’t matter how good you are. Even Michael Jordan still worked on his game.
“There’s a large change from facing high school shots to college shots, so I’ll have to face as many college level shots as I can in preparing to play at Griffland. JD Recor (Marist), his little brother Jake (Brockport), and Jon Antonio (Hobart/Mercyhurst) all help me. One of my best friends who is like a brother to me, Dallas Meyers, a junior goalie at Brockport, has really shaped me into becoming the goalie I am, and really understands my mindset and unique playing style,” stated Mazur. “I’m still working to building up my quickness and explosiveness through lifting, and I watch film and other lacrosse all the time in order to build up my lacrosse IQ. I’ve served in leadership roles for both my lacrosse and football teams throughout high school, but I’m still learning and becoming a better teammate. Since goalies need to be leaders, if I improve my leadership skills I’m also becoming a better goalie. By serving as a leader on and off the field, I’m able strengthen my team.”
Strengthening a team is something Mazur hopes to do as the Legends look to get past rival Orchard Park. Orchard Park has dominated the Western New York world (Section VI) it seems for a very long time.
Clarence knocked them off in the Section VI title game a few years back. But, everyone knows to with the Section VI championship you must go through the Quakers. And to be able to do that, a team must be able to play as a team for the entire game.
One quarter just won’t cut it.
“Orchard Park’s always been a thorn in Lancaster’s (and my) side. I’ve never beaten them in lacrosse, and never lost in football. First and foremost, we have to all buy into the team, character and mindset-wise. Everyone has to know their role, whether it’s driving each other in practice or making the game-winning shot. We have to improve our lacrosse intelligence,” stated Mazur. “We have many experienced players, there’s no excuse for mental mistakes. When mistakes happen we have to pick each other up. We will give up goals, turn the ball over, and lose faceoffs. How we pick ourselves up will determine if this season is a success or not. Finally we have to stay healthy. Orchard Park is a great team, with great players. No matter how good we play it will be a close game. We just have to control what we can control and what’s meant to be is meant to be.”
What’s meant to be is for Ben Mazur to have a solid senior year to cap off an amazing for years at Lancaster High School. Four year that he would never give back.
With so many kids choosing to go to a Catholic school after eight grade or even after their freshman or sophomore years, Mazur has been true to the school and community. And, from day one, is was content on helping to build a winning program.
“Lancaster is a blessing, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. My whole 2018 class is full of athletes, lacrosse players and non-lacrosse players alike,” stated Mazur. “The school is great academic wise, and I’ve participated in student union and Health Care Academy. My teachers, most specifically John Recktenwald, really enrooted the idea of me wanting to be the best at everything from a young age.”