The goaltender position is probably the most intriguing one when it comes to recruiting.
For starters, most college programs are especially picky about who they go after at that spot.
After all, most collegiate rosters are made up of midfielders, followed by defensemen and attackmen. The number of goalies on a roster pales in comparison to those other positions.
Which means that colleges often target goalie recruits earlier than they do recruits at other positions.
Judging by the way commitments have been coming in for the Class of 2013, that theory is definitely holding true.
Four players now on our “Updated recruiting review and commitment rundown” from the Class of 2013 are goaltenders.
The latest is Brian Balkam of Smithtown East, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound righty noted for his athleticism and hard-nosed style of play.
Balkam has verballed to North Carolina after also being targeted by Georgetown, Penn State, Villanova, Cornell, Princeton, Notre Dame and Ohio State.
For Balkam, success at the goalie position is a family tradition. His dad, Kevin, was the starting goalie for Sachem won it won the state championship his senior year, in 1979. Kevin Balkam still plays the position today in a 45-and-over league and participated in the Lake Placid Summit, where his team, Checkmate Inn, placed fourth.
“I became a goalie in second grade when he coached our youth team and we needed someone to play in goal,” Brian said. “I was the obvious choice.”
Balham is also a football standout for Smithtown East.
What were the main factors in your decision to attend North Carolina?
I’ve always liked UNC ever since I started playing lacrosse. The coaching staff saw me play in several tournaments and all-star games after my freshman year which got the process started. I then attended the UNC lax camp so we –the coaches and I – could both take a closer look at each other.
When I saw that they were interested in m, it was like a dream come true. Chapel Hill is a great college town and UNC offers everything I was looking for in a college.
Outstanding academic reputation, an incredible campus, great athletic tradition, experienced coaching staff, the best facilities and the pride of being a Tar Heel made it an easy decision in the end. My parents also supported my decision.
Watching the NCAA tournament has always inspired me to play on Memorial Day and UNC gives me a great chance to win a championship.
What other schools were you considering and what schools did you visit?
Georgetown, Penn State, Villanova, Cornell, Princeton, Notre Dame and Ohio State. I visited UNC twice before making my commitment.
What adjustments do you think you will need to make to play at the next level?
Much like any change in the level of play, the game speed will increase as well as the intensity and competition.
Every player on the field will be the best at his position, so the game will be much more intense. Minimizing mistakes and making sure I possess the ball on clears are important.
When it comes down to it a goalie has one major job; keep the ball out of the net. The goalie is the leader of the defense, so learning the UNC defensive schemes and helping my defenseman be in the right position is also important.
What are your strengths as a player and how would you describe your style of play?
As a player, I would say my strengths are clearing, positioning in the cage, field vision and team leadership. As many of my opponents know, I have a loud voice which I use to help bark out calls and direct my defense in front of me.
A major factor in stopping shots is being in the right position and also baiting shooters so they shoot where I think they will.
I would say I’m an intense player who plays hard and wants to win every time I compete.
Lacrosse will always be fun, but it is always more fun to win.
When did you first realize you had the potential to play at the college level?
When I was in seventh grade, I had the opportunity to practice with the varsity and was able to hold my own. I guess if there was a starting point in thinking I had what it takes to play at the D-I level that would be it.
For more info on Brian, check out his playing profile by clicking here.
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