Westminster's Natale won't let a shot to work hard get by him

Four years after seizing starting role in net, Yale-bound senior looks to lead Owls boys lacrosse team back to County Carroll title

  • "Any day that youre not working hard, somebody else is and theyre getting a step on you," said Westminster goalie Eric Natale, who will attend Yale in the fall. "My dad told me that when I was young. During the summer, he always made sure that I was working every day."
"Any day that youre not working hard, somebody else is… (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun…)
March 30, 2011|By Glenn Graham, The Baltimore Sun

When Eric Natale was younger, his father always emphasized the importance of hard work. "Any day that you're not working hard, somebody else is and they're getting a step on you," says Natale, a senior goalie for defending Carroll County champion Westminster. So back as a freshman, when the expected starting senior goalie didn't come out for the team at the start of the season, Natale pounced on the opportunity. He's been a fixture in the Owls' goal since, providing four years of fine play with more than 400 saves.

Maintaining a 4.3 GPA — his last B came in the eighth grade — Natale chose Yale over Brown, Georgetown and Navy, and plans to study business or economics. In addition to lacrosse, he also plays golf at Westminster. He is a member of the National Honor Society and Varsity Lettermen's Club in addition to a tutor.

With a lot of starters back, what are the expectations for the team this season?

We have an opportunity here to win as much as we can and hope we get to the state championship and bring home a title for the school. It's going to take a lot of hard work, everybody doing the right things, working as hard as they can every day, coming out here and just getting it done.

How did you get your start as a goalie?

I was probably 5 or 6. One day, our goalie from my rec team didn't show up, so the coach asked if anybody wanted to give it a try. So I raised my hand, played that one game, did pretty well and ever since I've just been hooked.

What is it about playing in goal that interests you?

It's just interesting. I played attack and midfield growing up too. It was a good challenge for me, I had never done it before. I figured out I was pretty good at it and people like to do what they're good at, so I just stuck with it.

What are the key to success in goal?

It's really just about having that motivation that you can't let them score at all, they don't get anything past you.

What are your strengths in goal?

My communication with the defense and my clearing abilities are the two things that set me apart. I like to make sure that once I make a save, I'm not just giving it right back to the other team with a bad clear. I like to get it up and out as quickly as possible, maybe get some fast breaks.

How important is the mental part of playing the position?

That's 90 percent of it. If you don't want to be out there and don't want to win, then you're not going to be able to compete with everybody.

What's the best advice you've ever received?

Any day that you're not working hard, somebody else is and they're getting a step on you. My dad told me that when I was young. During the summer, he always made sure that I was working every day just because any day that you're not working and they are — that means they're getting better and you're not.

What kind of projects have you done through the National Honor Society?

We're big in the Relay for Life, which raises money for cancer. So we always put together a big group that goes up and does the overnight walk in late March or April. You walk all night, raise some money.

How rewarding and important is it for you to help others?

That's what it's all about. When you're fortunate enough to have things going well, it's nice to help other people out, help them to get things going.

When did you decide on going to Yale?

I knew I had the academic ability to go somewhere like that so I kind of narrowed it down from there [last year]. And then once I went up for my couple visits, met the guys, met the coaches, I just knew it was the place for me.

Once you visited, what exactly set Yale apart from the other schools you were interested in?

It was really just the people there that were so friendly, the coaching staff, the team — they were all great guys. So I just knew to have the ability to play at such a prestigious academic school as well as having a great lacrosse team — I knew that was the place I wanted to go.

glenn.graham@baltsun.com

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