Junior Shamrocks goalie nets place at NCAA college

Goaltender Adam Bland would have been tending the lacrosse crease for the Victoria Junior Shamrocks this season. That didn’t happen. But this pandemic summer hasn’t been a complete write-off. The rising goaltending prospect committed last week to play NCAA Div. 1 field lacrosse for Hobart College, beginning in 2021-22.

It has brought salve to an otherwise lost season as his high school field-lacrosse season at Blue Ridge School in Virginia was cancelled in the spring after just one game followed by the entire B.C. Junior ‘A’ box-lacrosse season with the Junior Shamrocks being scrubbed.

“It’s been tough but you try to stay on track and keep your eyes on your eventual goals,” said Bland.

The physical aspects have included lifting weights and bouncing, then saving, tennis balls off walls in that time-honoured goalie tradition.

“There’s other stuff, too. You have to be creative during this time,” said Bland.

He considered Penn and the University of Utah Utes but will land at Hobart.

“They cracked the NCAA top-20 this season and have an up-and-coming program,” said Bland.

“And the area around Hobart [in upstate New York in the town of Geneva] reminds me a lot of the area around Victoria. It’s a small school but is Division 1. It really felt like a home-away-from-home.”

Bland came up through Juan de Fuca minor lacrosse. He attended Royal Bay Secondary, which has a lacrosse academy, until relocating to Blue Ridge School, a Saint George, Virginia, prep academy known for producing NCAA Div. 1 players in basketball, football and lacrosse. He leaves next Saturday to begin his Grade 12 year there.

Bland is fully aware of the COVID-19 situation in the United States.

“It’s daunting but I know the school will be striving to keep us safe and well. And hopefully, field lacrosse will be okay to go for the season next spring,” he said.

The field version of lacrosse is big from upstate New York through Long Island to Baltimore and down into Virginia and even North Carolina. Games in the NCAA Final Four attract crowds of between 30,000 and 50,000.

Many lacrosse players play both box, which is the variant best known in Canada, and field. But the two versions of the sport require a different approach in goal. Think of the differences between playing goal in hockey and soccer.

“There are tighter moves involved goaltending in box lacrosse, whereas you have to extend your range on the field,” said Bland.

Bland said his preference depends on which version he’s in at the time: “When I’m in box-lacrosse season, it’s box that is my favourite. When I’m in field-lacrosse season, it’s field.” He just wants to get back in the crease, whether it’s in a box or on a field.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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