By: Topher Scott
Never having played the position, I’m not sure I’ll ever truly understand the relationship between two goalies on a team. There are a lot of factors that could affect the relationship based on talent level, opportunity to play, and coaching philosophy on rotations…just to name a few. But even when there’s competition and a benefit when your partner doesn’t play well, goalies still seem to root and pull for each other.
I think it’s a pretty cool thing.
And none of that was more apparent than watching the “goalie battle” with the high school team that I helped coach this year. It was a situation that could have went south very easily…but because of the character of our kids tending the crease…it helped lead us to a State Championship.
Chris Falso was the senior. Adam Casper was the sophomore. Different goalies, different styles, different personalities…but the same in that they always seemed to put the team first.
Chris and Adam split every other game this year. It worked incredibly. Because of the competition, neither wanted to hand the crease off to the other and their play was stellar.
In the regular season, Chris didn’t lose a single game and Adam only lost one (they scored with under a minute left to beat us 1-0). Safe to say, we had a pretty awesome tandem.
But when playoffs came around, as coaches we had to make a decision. Do we keep splitting them? Do we go with the experience of a senior? Or do we go with who we thought had the hot hand in our sophomore?
Anyway you put it…there was a difficult decision to be made. And we made the one that may have caused the biggest uproar within our team (and our small town).
We decided to ride our sophomore through the tough stretch of the playoffs…meaning our senior, popular goalie that literally didn’t lose a game all season was going to be on the bench. It was extremely difficult, but it was the one we thought gave our team the best chance to win.
And here is where the story gets great. Because Chris (the senior)…who knew he wouldn’t have another chance to play in the uniform…could not have been more supportive or a better teammate. He became Adam’s biggest cheerleader. And Adam went on to backstop us to a State Championship.
I will always save the picture above because it embodies everything that is right about our game and youth sports in general. An emotional and happy Chris (35) giving the kid that took his job a huge bearhug in congratulations for helping our team win the championship. Honestly, it makes me smile every time I see it.
Without his attitude, there is no way in hell we win that championship.
And without Adam’s work ethic attitude, the team would never have bought into the sophomore playing in front of the senior.
As anybody who ever won a championship will tell you, without buy in and leadership there’s no chance you win. None. Chris’ actions showed some of the best buy in and leadership I’ve seen in the sport.
As Chris graduates this spring he should know that the example he set will live on in the locker room of his small town hockey team forever. It’s a story that will be passed on by every future coach to show their players what it means to be a good teammate and how to put others before yourself.
It was a special year that ended with our small town winning the State Championship. And even though his name didn’t appear on the scoresheet, Chris Falso was our playoff team MVP.