The evolution of Evan Molloy in goal

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Evan Molloy doesn’t mince his words. Without a drop of hesitation, he’ll tell you how coaches adore his leadership and peers admire his confidence. He knows what he’s good at, and laughs off the suggestion he couldn’t have possibly been ready for this moment.It’s one of four years in the making as Syracuse’s backup goalie, which first culminated at the opening whistle against Hobart in his first career start on April 6. Then again against Cornell the following week, and once more against North Carolina four days later.“I’m not going to lie,” Molloy said. “It’s a great feeling to finally be playing out there. I don’t think that I ever lacked belief in myself.”His words provide a steel backdrop to a career that’s otherwise filled with holes, namely on 60 starting lineups dating back to 2013 that were absent of his name. But lineup No. 61 changed that, and Molloy’s presence in net for No. 8 Syracuse (7-4, 2-2 Atlantic Coast) has provided stability for a turbulent SU team that next plays Binghamton (4-7, 2-2 America East) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Carrier Dome.The 6-foot-1 goalkeeper stymied the Tar Heels on Saturday and allowed only seven goals to the nation’s fourth-best offense, right on the heels of a deflating loss to the Big Red when he allowed the team to score double-digit goals for just the fifth time this season.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textMolloy’s change in performance is emblematic of a skillset that’s hardly ever put him at the forefront of his team’s plans, but was refined too much behind closed doors to flop on the bigger stage.“You get evaluated in practice, and when your turn comes to get into the game you’ve got to get it done,” assistant coach Lelan Rogers said. “Both Evan and Warren (Hill) have done an outstanding job so far.“But you’re looking for someone that can spark us, can get us going.”It wasn’t an easy path for Molloy to fuel his team’s flame, as he recalled entering his freshman season as one of nine goalies by the time he first slipped on an Orange jersey. The list whittled down to six by the time the 2013 season opened, but SU was still one of the deepest goalie teams in the country.Adjustments had to be made if Molloy was to ascend atop the depth chart. He knew he stood on the outside of the goalie competition as a rookie. But coaches took exception to the freshman literally standing on the outside, with his toes kissing the crease as he stood in goal.“It’s kind of dangerous,” head coach John Desko said of Molloy’s style. “… We haven’t had great success with any of our goalies doing that.”Molloy often vacated his safe-zone to try and cut off passes around the net. His teammates and coaches were taken aback. He was just leaning on his high school style of play, an ambitious strategy that worked against average players but immediately became the butt of team jokes as the freshman whizzed around the field.He decided to retreat.“It’s the same game, it’s just the ball’s further away,” Molloy said of staying in the crease. “I just took a step back and kept playing.”That’s what he’s done for the last four years, steadily moving closer to the starting spot as he inched away from the crease line. After a gritty effort noted by Desko and Rogers in this season’s fall practice, Molloy still yielded the starting spot to Hill.It was perhaps the most familiar spot Molloy’s been in at Syracuse, having been a backup for three years in high school. He’d only play a handful of minutes, if at all, and got used to not warming up before coming into the end of blowout games.And in turn, he got used to not making the first save after coming in cold. It’s become a running joke in his family with a sour punchline. Sure enough, in the three games Molloy entered in the fourth quarter this year, the first shot on goal found the back of the net.“I like getting warmed up obviously,” Molloy said, “but I don’t need a warmup. I can get thrown out there and start.”But when he had the luxury of a warmup, it worked. He’s stopped not just the first shot, but the first two shots in each of his three starts this year.It’s a celebrated progression within his family, but more notably by a Syracuse coaching staff who hasn’t unseated Molloy from his starting post. He’s done trying to prevent shots from outside the crease, and knows now he might benefit from some pregame practice.He’s clearly a changed goalie, one who’s trying to make a name for himself in a program that his father holds the all-time saves record in. But don’t confuse Molloy for his dad, or even Hill, the former starter turned backup. Molloy knows it’s his turn.“You can compare me to any other goalie but that won’t really help you,” Molloy said. “I’m just there to worry about myself.“I’m a good leader out there, and if you want to get away from the save department, I clear the ball well. But that’s just me. I wouldn’t compare myself to any other goalie.” Comments Published on April 19, 2016 at 11:28 pm Contact Connor: cgrossma@syr.edu | @connorgrossmanlast_img

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