Each week, The Baltimore Sun will publish a Q&A with a college lacrosse player or coach to get you better acquainted with the player and his/her team. Today's guest is Johns Hopkins senior goalkeeper Eric Schneider, who joins Loyola Maryland senior Jack Runkel and Maryland senior Niko Amato as the only goalies in the NCAA tournament ranked in the top 10 in both goals-against average and save percentage.
Schneider has been especially impressive in the Blue Jays' current 5-1 stretch, during which he has recorded a 6.96 goals-against average and a .615 save percentage. Schneider will try to help Johns Hopkins knock off eighth-seeded Virginia in a NCAA tournament first-round game Sunday at 1 p.m.
Do you still remember sophomore midfielder Drew Coholan's goal with 1 minute, 9 seconds left in overtime that gave Virginia an 11-10 decision on March 22?
Yeah, and I watched it the other night about 15 times. Just letting it sink in and fuel me for the week. Me and the guys are really eager to get back there and hopefully put forth a better effort than we did last time.
What do you remember about that play?
I remember that he inverted from behind and dodged to a good spot, and he just pulled the trigger, and I just missed it, unfortunately. Hopefully, we have some different circumstances coming up this weekend.
How close were you to making the save?
I believe that it hit off my leg and bounced in. But it was a great shot. You've got to hand it to him.
Does that play haunt you?
It's more of personal pride. We let one slip away down there, and the guys are really excited to get back down there and hopefully avenge that loss. But they're a different team, and they're playing really well. They just beat Carolina, which is a big win for them, and I think we're a different team as well. So it should be a good matchup.
What's been the key to your recent performances?
I just kind of have a mentality of being focused on the next play and the next shot. I didn't really think about what would happen if I didn't make a save or what would happen if I did. I just kind of focused on the ball and made the next save to help my team out in any way that I could.
Was it difficult to succeed Pierce Bassett, a three-year starter, in the cage?
He was a great goalie. He was a three-time All-American and a great teammate. It was definitely a challenge to succeed him. He taught me a lot in my three years to help me to be able to succeed this season.
What did Bassett teach you?
I think it was his calm demeanor and him not being rattled if he let in a few goals, and I took that into my game. I just tried to always have that next-play mentality and not let a goal hurt me in the future.
Junior long-stick midfielder Michael Pellegrino has described you as a fiery goalie. Has that been important in your development?
I think I've always been an emotional and enthusiastic kid, and I do try to bring that to my play in the goal. I think it's a combination of things, and taking that stuff from Pierce has helped me a lot. But I definitely do try to get my team motivated and be real excited after I make a big play or somebody else makes a big play.
Is there a fine line between playing emotionally and being out of control?
Absolutely, because then you get jumpy and your legs begin to feel like Jell-O. I try to find that happy medium where I'm excited. It's more about trying to channel that excitement into a focus, which has helped me this year.
Goalie play is always significant for a team's postseason run. Do you feel a lot of pressure to anchor the defense?
After those three losses [on consecutive Saturdays in March], our backs were kind of against the wall, and we were essentially playing playoff games. So I think the team has experience in that environment, and hopefully that will help us this weekend.