WLAX : Costantino takes lead in goaltender competition early in season

first_imgSince day one of training camp, the starting goaltending job has been an open competition between Alyssa Costantino and Kelsey Richardson.Even Feb. 17 — four days before SU’s season-opener against Boston College — head coach Gary Gait had yet to declare a starter.But after playing 42 minutes against No. 1 Northwestern on Wednesday and the entirety of Saturday’s double-overtime win over No. 7 Florida, Costantino appears to have seized the upper hand.‘Definitely the support of the sideline, everyone on the team, everyone in the stands helped me really stay focused in the (Florida) game,’ Costantino said.The duo split halves in each of the No. 5 Orange’s (2-2) first two games, but in the last two contests, Costantino has dominated time between the pipes. She helped the top-ranked Wildcats to just three first-half goals — its lowest total all season — before tallying a career-high 13 saves in Gainesville, Fla., en route to SU’s first win over a top-five opponent since 2006.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWith those extended minutes, the sophomore has improved both her play and confidence in net, and also taken control of the positional battle.Richardson, a freshman, played the second half against No. 13 BC and No. 11 Virginia, and the final 24-plus minutes against Northwestern, but has started each of SU’s four games on the sidelines.Facing a fifth consecutive top-15 foe Saturday against No. 4 Maryland, Gait said he will likely turn to Costantino to start once more.‘I think so,’ Gait said. ‘We talked about it. We also talked about possibly starting Kelsey so we’ll see what happens. We’ll go through practice this week and we’ll make a decision as we get closer.’Costantino’s sturdy play has certainly dictated her cemented position behind the SU defense.Midway through the first half of the Northwestern game, Costantino crouched alertly, watching as senior defender Jill Cammett, standing on the right side of the shooting arc, fought to prevent Erin Fitzgerald from backing down toward the net.But the NW attack was crafty, faking a spin right, before beating turning right, beating Cammett to the middle and firing a close-range rocket to the left of the net.Costantino calmly blocked the shot, turning it away to defender Becca Block who carried it upfield.‘We’re just trying to cut off their angles and make it a pressured shot so it’s easier for us to save,’ Costantino said. ‘And the defense is doing a great job on that.’Against the Gators, Costantino did just that, discarding three of UF’s six free-position attempts.She credited the success at least in part to the high level of competition between herself and Richardson in practice. The goalies push each other to improve, but when the Orange lines up against an opponent, both said it doesn’t matter who’s in net and who’s on the sidelines. They support each other regardless.While Richardson said she was used to starting every game after playing primarily without a backup in high school, she embraces the contributions she can make to the team, whether they come in practice, from the sidelines, or on the field in games.‘Of course I want to be out on the field,’ Richardson said. ‘I want to help out my teammates, but at the same time, if Alyssa’s having a great game I’m going to be there to support her.‘But definitely in practice I’m working a little bit harder, definitely trying to focus more and just trying to play the best lacrosse that I can so when I do get those opportunities to be in the game, I can be the best for our team.’Even at halftime of the Florida game, when Richardson found out Costantino would be starting the second half, she was there for her teammate.Richardson pulled Costantino aside after halftime warmups, telling her that she was playing great and to keep it up for the victory.For Costantino, that support means everything.‘Just that constant, positive support helped me play my best,’ Costantino said. ‘Having Kelsey there on the sideline talking to me specifically — because she knows exactly how I feel — having that connection with her really helped me stay focused and calm during the game.’[email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Stephen: [email protected] | @Stephen_Bailey1center_img Commentslast_img

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