Boys Lacrosse: Blazer looking awfully strong as Libertyville’s starting goalkeeper
Libertyville's Tyler Crusey (No. 12) tries to get past Lake Forest's Jason Handler during last Thursday's game. Libertyville won 6-4. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 13, 2012 8:08AM
Initially, Libertyville High School’s Cole Blazer wanted to be a defenseman in lacrosse. As he got a little older, he changed to attack.
Of course, he could only resist the lure of playing in goal for so long. His older brother, Jordan, was a starting goalie at Libertyville, and he gave his brother instructions in the backyard on the finer points of the position.
Blazer quickly grew to love playing goalie.
“My dad jokes that goalies are touched in the head,” Blazer said. “You have to be a little crazy to stand in front of those 100 mph shots. It’s a unique position, and I (enjoy) frustrating the other team and not letting them score.”
Blazer missed the first part of his sophomore season after breaking his collarbone in a President’s Day Tournament.
“I heard it crack, but I was able to walk off the field,” Blazer said. “I wasn’t as much scared as I was aggravated that I would have to miss time. It was a real struggle to sit at practice and watch my teammates play. I was essentially a water boy for six weeks.”
He returned to the lineup in time for Libertyville’s hugely significant 6-4 victory over Lake Forest High School on Friday. He posted a save percentage of 71 percent.
“That’s amazing, considering he was coming off an injury and hadn’t played,” said Wildcats coach Brady Sullivan. “He showed no fear.”
As a freshman, Blazer was the varsity backup goalie, and gained additional experience in practice and in a few games.
“He had already seen a lot of high-level shots,” Sullivan said. “He came in ready.”
Sullivan said Jordan Blazer was probably the best goalie he coached at Libertyville. He said Cole Blazer is in that same mold.
“He’s very quick and athletic,” Sullivan said. “He’s becoming more physical and is (gaining) seasoning. It’s pretty exciting to think about watching him grow and continue to lock down such an important position.”
Team effort: It wasn’t as if it marked the first time Libertyville defeated Lake Forest. What was so significant was the way in which the Wildcats performed against a veteran team considered to be one of the best in the state. Lake Forest defeated Libertyville 8-5 in last year’s state playoffs.
“From top to bottom, this was probably the best team effort we’ve had in my six years here,” Sullivan said. “Every single guy on the field gave everything they had, and the guys that didn’t see the field were loud and really supported their teammates.”
Junior Nick Ward led the way with two goals and an assist. Junior A.J. Schmidt had two goals. Zach Labrum and Zach Friedman each tallied once. Senior Connor Loucks had an assist.
“The whole first line really controlled the pace of the game, especially in the fourth quarter,” Sullivan said.
Senior Clay Cusek and Ethan Miller helped the defense create six takeaways.
Even though Libertyville trailed 2-1 early on, Sullivan was pleased with the way the game was progressing. The Wildcats scored four consecutive goals to turn the 4-1 deficit into a 5-4 advantage.
“We only have six seniors, but we have a lot of guys (back) from last year,” Sullivan said. “We’re about as ‘veteran’ as a young team can be.”
Extra session: The Wildcats couldn’t sustain the momentum Saturday against Lake Zurich High School. Libertyville lost 5-4 in overtime, its first loss to the Bears in program history.
“They’re a growing program and they came out and beat us,” Sullivan said. “I told our guys that one big win doesn’t mean we still don’t have a lot of work to do. There wasn’t a lack of effort, but if we don’t show up and execute it doesn’t matter who we play.”
Loucks and Phil Santi each had two goals for the Wildcats.
On the schedule: The Wildcats visit highly regarded St. Viator on Friday. Earlier this season, St. Viator defeated New Trier.
“That will be a big test for us,” Sullivan said. “They’re definitely one of the top five teams in the state.”