Mount goaltender a jack of all trades

Women's lacrosse: Not only has Naomi Campano Radio made a smooth transition from one sport to another, but she's good, too.

College Lacrosse

April 08, 2005|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Naomi Campano Radio can barely believe the path her athletic career has taken.

The Mount St. Mary's graduate student arrived in Emmitsburg in the fall of 2000 as a soccer goalie. Four years later, she was the Northeast Conference Player of the Year -- in lacrosse.

"You couldn't even make a movie of what happened to me. It's so unbelievable," said Campano Radio, 22.

The central Pennsylvania native hadn't even seen a women's lacrosse game when the recruiting call came in her sophomore year from Mountaineers then-assistant coach Lisa Le Beau.

After unsuccessfully trying to convert a field player, Le Beau thought a soccer goalie might make the transition more smoothly.

"Naomi had amazing reflexes, and it was important that she already was a goalie. Goalies have a different mentality, and she had that," said Le Beau, who played in goal at Salisbury.

"She had a great work ethic, and she was open to it. For someone who has never even seen lacrosse to come out and try it the way she did was just amazing."

Campano Radio agreed to give it a try but admits she sometimes wondered what she had gotten herself into.

"In the beginning, I was absolutely awful. The ball never hit the stick. It either hit me, or it went in."

Still, it didn't take her long to get the hang of it.

"I don't know how she did it," said Mountaineers defender Kelly Nangle. "I remember there not really being a transition period, it was just like boom, she knew what she was doing."

"Other coaches had no clue it was her first time ever playing," said Mount head coach Courtney Martinez Connor, who had just taken over the program that fall.

"When we first put her in the cage and saw her potential, I knew she was going to be a great goalie. She's one of those kids who wants to learn, so that means she's going to be even better than we ever expected."

While learning the rules took Campano Radio awhile, the concepts came easily thanks to her background in soccer.

As a soccer goalie, she understood how to cut down on angles, how to position herself and how to communicate with the defense.

"You really have to be a vocal leader as a soccer goalie, and in lacrosse, it's the same way. I basically don't shut up the whole time," Campano Radio said.

She did have difficulty adjusting to one difference, however.

"The hardest part was getting used to the score," she said. "In soccer you're used to giving up one or two goals, and then three goals go in two minutes, and I'm thinking I'm the worst goalie ever, I'm letting my team down."

By last season, her third in goal, everything clicked and she earned NEC Player of the Year honors after leading the Mount to the conference title and to the NCAA tournament.

"Her composure and her leadership helped them win those tight games," said Sacred Heart coach Laura Korutz, whose team lost two one-goal games to the Mount. "In lacrosse, especially in the position of goalie, it's impressive to be able to learn all the techniques as quickly as she has."

For Campano Radio, the award "was the biggest shock ever. It's like winning the lottery. You play the ticket, but you never expect to be the person that wins. My teammates were awesome about it, and I could never have done it without them."

Campano Radio is first in the conference in goals-against average (8.30) and save percentage (.556).

For Campano Radio, the switch to lacrosse also set off a career change. A political science major, she had intended to go to law school but opted to enter the graduate program in secondary education while she finished her final year of lacrosse eligibility.

She hopes to teach high school and also thinks about coaching lacrosse at the college level.

In high school, she wanted to go to Penn State or Villanova but earned the Kuderer Prize, a full four-year academic scholarship, at Mount St. Mary's. She also wanted to play college basketball but was better at soccer in high school, so she stuck with that.

One thing did go according to plan, however. She married high school sweetheart Tim Radio, a Penn State graduate, in November.

Despite its twists, Campano Radio wouldn't change anything about the route her life has taken.

"You can never predict what is going to happen to you, and you have to take every chance that comes to you. As a coach, that would be a great story to tell people about taking chances and making the most of your opportunities."

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