Goalie masters adversity lesson Field hockey: Westminster goalie Emily White was unprepared for the reality of playing with less experienced teammates. Now she says the lessons learned have been real keepers.

October 25, 1998|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Westminster goalie Emily White breezed through her first two varsity seasons. She started and allowed only five goals for the 16-0-1 team that won the Class 4A state title two years ago. White proved just as good for the 16-1 Owls last year, again giving up only five goals, three of which Severna Park scored in beating Westminster in the state final.

But coming into this season, White knew life might change somewhat. The Owls had only two starters returning, and their schedule was much tougher. White was quickly put to the test and struggled more than she would have liked. Eventually, however, the goalie accepted one fact that helped her turn the corner.

"Goals are going to go in," said White. "I had to learn to accept that. It's been a real tough lesson for me this year, but adversity builds character and I think I've become better."

White fought through her early-season troubles and has put together another stellar year, one she capped Thursday with a big 11-save performance in Westminster's 2-1 victory over No. 4 North Carroll. The playoffs are next for the Owls, and White is at the top of her game and ready for anything.

How dominant were the Owls during White's first two years? Consider last year's statistics that show White allowing only one regular-season goal in 12 games. In addition, she needed to make just 24 saves during those contests. White said people jokingly offered her books, lawn chairs and even sleeping bags to keep her occupied during games where she rarely saw the ball.

White then stepped up in the playoffs, making 38 saves in five games. Westminster's region final with Chesapeake-AA and the state semifinal against Whitman both went to penalty strokes, and White shined in each game. Five of the 14 saves she made against Whitman were on the strokes while four of the eight Chesapeake saves came on the strokes.

But this year was a much different story. She made 82 saves in the regular season, an increase of about 342 percent from last year. White also allowed 15 goals in the regular season as the Owls suffered tough losses to county champion and No. 4 North Carroll (2-1), No. 5 Francis Scott Key (2-1 OT), No. 6 St. Paul's (1-0), No. 9 Centennial (2-1) and No. 14 St. Mary's (2-0).

White played well most times, even making 18 saves against St. Paul's in a performance that had the opposing fans cheering late in the game. Still, when the goals started going in, some of her confidence started going out.

"I still have a lot to learn," said White. "I learned that you have to have selective amnesia. You have to remember the good saves and [try to forget] the goals."

White and Westminster coach Brenda Baker talked several times during the season as the goalie searched for answers. Baker said White simply wasn't used to having goals scored and had to adjust to that -- which can be tough.

"Emily is the type of player that's constantly seeking to improve," said Baker. "She's very open to suggestion and criticism, and she's a very coachable kid."

White works hard at her craft. She's been to various tournaments in different cities and hopes to attend a field hockey clinic in Spain this summer.

She also hopes to play in college, listing Maryland, Virginia, James Madison and Brown as her possible choices. But for now, she'll concentrate on the regional playoffs. Westminster has made the state final for nine straight years, and White would love to help the Owls stretch that streak.

"I don't think I would trade this season," said White. "I've had to really learn from the inside to see how I deal with things, and it's been a real learning experience. But it's one I'm glad I had."

Pub Date: 10/25/98

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