Knoxville, Tn – When a lacrosse team takes the field three attackmen walk to their offensive side, three midfielders line up across the midfield line, three defensemen lug their d-poles towards their own crease, but there is always only one man that steps between the pipes; the goalie.
As is common the goalie spot is a singular position during play which increases the competition for the starting role. However on the University of Tennessee Men’s Club Lacrosse team there is a noticeable camaraderie between three individuals all carrying giant, tennis racquet like sticks wearing next to nothing for padding. Those three individuals are seniors David Catterton, Jordan Blazer and junior David Sapala; UT’s goal stoppers.
Blazer and Catterton have each played three seasons for the Vols, trading off games played because both have been that good. Both were actually thrust into the mix to start after the incumbent at the time decided not to return to the program. Blazer, a Libertyville, Il. native, recalled how it felt to hear he’d be competing for the top spot. “I was stoked; I was looking forward to the competition. I was the starter my junior and senior year, but coming to a completely new team and not knowing his abilities I was pumped to compete,” said Blazer.
“When you looked at us both freshmen year you couldn’t tell the difference, I mean we’ve got the same style and stature with a few differences to our game at the time. But I had come in thinking I was going to wait my turn, but now I got this other freshman who’s just as good if not better and it was hard at first because I didn’t know if I had put enough into it, but in the long run its been awesome,” said Catterton of Brentwood, TN.
Not to be seen as a third wheel, junior David Sapala has taken a different path in earning his time between the pipes. A native of Chattanooga, TN, Sapala joined the Tennessee program with a much less refined skill set, but with the strong desire to earn minutes while learning from two of the South Eastern Lacrosse Conference’s best.
“It was tough coming in because they’re a year above me and they’re both really good, so it was going to be an uphill battle my first three years here. I took the time to really learn the position, get my fundamentals down and learn a lot from them because they had a lot to teach me,” said Sapala.
All three players will admit how their games have improved through learning and mentoring one another on a variety of skill sets needed to play the goalie position. Common compliments in regards to one another are summed up as so: Blazer is the speedster, he loves the open field, Catterton has precision passing when it comes to deep clears and would rather toss dimes than run and Sapala is the scrapper who has taken on both his counterparts unique levels of swagger and risen his game simply through a stronger confidence.
Tennessee lacrosse is vying for a conference title as they prepare to field their most veteran team yet in the past five seasons. Ask any one of the three how UT Lax will reach its 2012 season goals and all three have the same response; strong goalie play.
Blazer and Catterton intend to enjoy their final season in Orange and White as they mentor Sapala for one more season. Don’t be fooled, each desires to start as there is no lack of competitive fire, however the strength of their bond is what has given the Vols three lights-out goalies.