Upper Valley Goalies Give Chargers a Jolt
Colby-Sawyer College women’s lacrosse goaltender Karley Hamilton adjusts her hairband during halftime of a game last weekend. Hamilton, a freshman and former Oxbow Union High standout, has appeared in 13 games while teaming with classmate Jodi Dumayne, a Claremont native and Stevens High product. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »
Colby-Sawyer College women's lacrosse goaltender Karley Hamilton tosses the ball to a referee during the Chargers' 15-12, nonconference victory in New London. Hamilton, a freshman and former Oxbow High standout, has appeared in 13 games while teaming with classmate Jodi Dumayne, a Claremont native and Stevens High product. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »
Colby-Sawyer College women's lacrosse goaltender Karley Hamilton has a SUNY Canton shot carom away off her face mask during the Chargers' 15-12, nonconference victory in New London. Hamilton, a freshman and former Oxbow High standout, has appeared in 13 games while teaming with classmate Jodi Dumayne, a Claremont native and Stevens High product. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »
New London — The Colby-Sawyer College women’s lacrosse team has had trouble recruiting goaltenders in the past.
“We’ve had a serious issue in getting them to come up to Northern New England,” said third-year Chargers coach Emily Rinde-Thorsen, whose squad entered the week having staged only four outdoor practices and two games at its on-campus grass field. “A lot of them don’t want to come up to play for a program which doesn’t have (an artificial turf) field where they can be outside early in the season. So we’ve just looked at people already here and said, ‘You’re quick and athletic; let’s make you a goalie.’ ”
This year, however, Rinde-Thorsen recruited not one, but two, goaltenders from her own back yard. One of them, Karley Hamilton, came to Colby-Sawyer from Oxbow Union High in Bradford, Vt. The other, Jodi Dumayne, is a product of Claremont and Stevens High.
Hamilton (6-7) has appeared in 13 games and started 12 of them, with a .400 save percentage and a 12.74 goals-against average. Dumayne (1-1) has seen action in seven contests, starting three of them, and has a .343 save percentage and an 11.67 GAA.
Between starters and backups, the Chargers have used nine different goaltenders during the past five seasons, and Hamilton’s and Dumayne’s numbers are better than average from among that pack. Not bad for freshmen, one of whom had never participated in a lacrosse game before last month.
“It’s a hard position to play, and even if you’re a goalkeeper in another sport, there isn’t another sport in the world where you get scored on as often as you do in lacrosse,” said Rinde-Thorsen, who is also the Chargers’ field hockey coach and who employs Dumayne as her goaltender in that sport in the fall. “A phenomenal save percentage is 50 percent, so if you get somebody who hasn’t played before, that’s a tough mental thing to get through, and we had to work on that with Jodi.
“You might get three goals scored against you in field hockey and be upset about that. But in lacrosse, it can be 13 or 15 or 18 goals against, and you have to find a way to deal with that.”
Hamilton, a reserve goalkeeper on the women’s soccer team, was a standout lacrosse shot-stopper in high school. She and Dumayne have helped Chargers lacrosse to a 7-8 overall record and a 4-2 mark in North Atlantic Conference play. Colby-Sawyer finished third in the regular-season standings and hosts No. 6 Husson in a first-round conference tournament game this afternoon.
A victory would send the Chargers to Saturday’s semifinals against Thomas College, of Waterville, Maine. The semifinals and finals are being hosted by Castleton (Vt.) State College, which won the NAC and beat Colby-Sawyer, 20-10, last weekend.
Hamilton thought her sports career might be over after Oxbow. She applied to the University of Connecticut, Quinnipiac University and St. Michael’s College, in Colchester, Vt. She was recruited to play soccer at the latter, but instead wound up choosing Colby-Sawyer late last summer after various financial-aid scenarios unspooled. Hamilton had been on Rinde-Thorsen’s recruiting radar as a senior, and once the coach discovered the prospect was in school, she set about convincing her to join the lacrosse program.
“I was a little nervous at first, but I’m glad I’m playing,” Hamilton said. “It actually helps my time management to play two sports.”
Like all freshmen athletes, Hamilton had to adjust to an increase in her teammates’ and opponents’ size, speed and strength. Another hurdle is that much of the Chargers’ practice time has been in the gym, where the lighting and hard floor create unrealistic conditions for preparing to handle outdoor game conditions.
Bounce shots that rise high and true off lacquered wood instead splat and carom unpredictably on waterlogged grass or in mud. Bright sunshine makes spotting a white, airborne ball a real challenge.
“There’s definitely more power behind the shots, and (opponents) are definitely smarter about their placement in college,” said Hamilton, who is thinking of moving to a field position next year, when a pair of touted goaltending prospects are slated to suit up for the Chargers. “I like playing goal in lacrosse, but it’s a lot of pressure and you see a lot of shots. I like the game, though, so if I can stay involved, I will.”
Said Rinde-Thorsen: “She needs to be a little bit quicker to the ball, and we’ve worked a lot on sighting it in traffic, between defenders. She’s very good on (set position shots), where the ball is static and then coming directly at her.”
Colby-Sawyer got some practice time and two games in during a mid-March trip to Florida, but next year will be different. Groundbreaking on an artificial turf field is expected to begin next month, Rinde-Thorsen said, and that should attract more talented athletes for soccer, field hockey and lacrosse.
By that time, however, Dumayne doesn’t plan to be part of the latter program. Because she’s studying to become a certified athletic trainer, she can’t fit more than one varsity sport into her academic calendar.
This spring will be a one-shot deal, but she’s enjoyed the experience, seeing starting time when Hamilton injured a thumb.
“I was nervous before my first game, because I knew we didn’t have a sub for me,” Dumayne said. “But everyone’s been very supportive, so it’s been an easy adjustment.”
It’s no wonder that Dumayne, who was also a softball catcher at Stevens, excels against low shots. She started 12 games during her first college field hockey season, when the second-year Chargers program finished 5-10 overall after a 3-13 mark during its inaugural campaign. Dumayne said Rinde-Thorsen asked her about playing lacrosse in January.
“I had probably only seen six games my whole life,” she recalled. “But before preseason even started, Coach brought me into the gym and worked with me, showing me how to hold the stick and how to step to the ball.”
Hamilton is grateful to have a capable backup and impressed by how well Dumayne has taken to the spring sport.
“She’s improved so much since the beginning of the season,” Hamilton said. “Being as athletic as she is, she’s been able to switch sports easily and has done a great job. It (stinks) that she won’t be back next season.”
For now, however, the pair is working to help Colby-Sawyer create a little bit of history. Only once since the program’s 1979 inception have the Chargers advanced as far as a conference tournament title game. Three victories this week would result in the team’s first NCAA tournament bid and provide a further boost to recruiting.
Soon, the Chargers might have a plethora, and not a paucity, of goaltenders.
Notes: Colby-Sawyer’s roster includes senior attacker Kylie McDonnell, a Quechee resident who played at Hartford High. She has started in seven of the 13 games she’s played this season, scoring five goals and adding an assist. Teammate and sophomore midfielder Michelle Upham, from Chelsea, has started 12 of 13 games in which she’s appeared and has eight goals and an assist. … Colby-Sawyer beat Husson, 20-12, and lost to Thomas, 10-9, earlier this season. … The Chargers are 173-242-5 in program history and have posted eight winning seasons. Their last came during an 8-7 campaign in 2007, the team’s third consecutive spring above .500. … Rinde-Thorsen, who served as a Chargers lacrosse assistant in 2010, is married to Dartmouth field hockey coach Amy Fowler.
Tris Wykes can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3227.