Goalie rotation works for Grove City
Most soccer teams rely on one goalkeeper to keep the ball out of the net, but that's not the case for the Grove City High School boys squad.
The Greyhounds have found success with a two-goalie rotation.
Senior Taisto Laine and junior Alex Farkas have platooned in goal for Grove City, which was 5-6-5 overall before playing Westland on Oct. 17 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
"I don't care who is playing in goal because I'm 100 percent confident in both Taisto and Alex," coach Jamie Dato said. "Keepers can give up goals that are their fault, but I can't think of one goal this year that was their fault. They put themselves in position to be successful.
"Most teams have goalies who make five or six saves per game, but these guys make more. They routinely make a dozen legit saves every night. We have been giving up a lot shots, but not a lot of goals, which says a lot both our keepers."
Through 15 regular-season contests, Laine was 3-2-3 with 12 goals allowed and 90 saves while appearing in nine games.
"You have to be smart about the game (to play goalie)," said Laine, who started playing soccer at age 5 and became a goalie at 7. "You have to be in the right position to play the ball and you have to communicate with the defenders in front of you."
Farkas was 2-3-2 with 12 goals allowed and 68 saves.
"I was playing travel (soccer) and they put me (in goal) one practice because they needed another goalie and I've been there ever since," Farkas said. "I was in the fourth or fifth grade and the coaches said I was good at it and they kept me there."
Dato said his goalies have different personalities on the field, but the results are the same.
"Alex is a little more vocal and he directs the defense a little more, but they are both skilled, athletic and aggressive players," Dato said. "Taisto only plays during the high school season. He plays smart and has a strong kick.
"They both know where to be on the field and they are both fast. They're all-around solid goalkeepers."
Farkas said his approach to penalty kicks is to watch the shooter's body language.
"It's mostly mental during a penalty kick," he said. "You have to be able to read their bodies. That can tell you where they are going with the ball. You can see where their body is flowing. It's a mental thing that comes with experience."
Laine plays penalty kicks on a hunch or from past experience against the shooter.
"On penalty kicks, you have to watch and you have to react," he said. "You're really just guessing and you have to pay the hunch."
Laine said consistency and focus are the most important aspects of being a goalie.
"You can't go through the motions," he said.
Farkas said stamina also is a key ingredient to success.
"You have to be in shape to play goalie because you are always moving around diving, catching and punting the ball," he said. "You have to have a lot of upper- and lower-body strength."
If the Greyhounds won their district opener, they will play at 12th-seeded Westerville South in the second round at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20.