Lacrosse goalies have to defend against shots traveling at speeds close to 100 mph. We took a peek into University of Denver goalie Jamie Faus’ mind to see what the sophomore and former Rookie of the Year—he’s got a .557 save percentage (60 percent is considered excellent for professionals)—is thinking during the game.

White stadiums…are hard to adjust to because the backdrop is the same color as the ball. Faus prefers arenas that have dark seats or walls surrounding the field because they make the ball stand out.

Goalies get hit…a lot. Faus sometimes loses feeling in his bicep or leg during a game. It doesn’t help that he, like many lacrosse goalies, wears limited padding; Faus feels more comfortable and agile with less gear.

The type of field… makes a big difference. Bounce shots on grass fields tend to pivot at unexpected angles, making them hard to read. Turf fields, like DU’s, are more predictable.

Goaltending… comes with more responsibility than just blocking shots. It’s also about directing the defense. “I can see the whole field. I can see where the ball is, where the other offensive players are,” Faus says. “As a goalie you have to control the other six guys in front of you and let them know what we’re doing as a defense.”

Fake shots… followed by real shots are extraordinarily difficult to defend. If a player feigns low and then throws to the top corner, the goalie has to react, regroup, and counter against the actual shot—all in mere seconds.

Shots travel so fast… that goalies have to develop personal strategies to follow the ball: Faus creates two windows, one around the shooter’s body and one in front of his own face. When he can tell the player is shooting, he shifts his focus: “The first time I really see the ball and react to it, it’s about a foot in front of me,” he says.

Being right-handed… makes offside shots (to his left side) near his hip the hardest to defend. “It’s farthest away from where your stick is and it’s kind of an awkward position to make that save,” Faus says.

Watch it: Catch the season home opener against the University of Michigan on February 25, 1:30 p.m., at DU’s Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium.

This article was originally published in 5280 February 2012.
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer is an award-winning writer and editor based in Denver. You can find more of her work at