Niko Amato had enjoyed solid outings this season, including a 13-save display in Maryland’s 12-10 redemption win against reigning national champion Loyola on Feb. 23 and double-digit stops in four of his previous contests.
But in the No. 6 Terps’ 8-7 victory over No. 14 Yale on Saturday, Amato may have been at his best. He finished with a career-best 24 saves, which is the most by a Division I goalkeeper in a win this season. (Rutgers freshman Kris Alleyne and Michigan freshman Gerald Logan each made 25 stops, but they both suffered losses.)
Amato’s saves were the most by a Maryland goalie since Harry Alford posted 25 against Georgetown on Feb. 26, 2005. But Amato did not put too much weight in his performance.
“I just wanted to do my job,” the redshirt junior said. “We all trust each other to do our jobs. If they’re going to shoot that many shots and the defense is putting me in a position to succeed, then hopefully, I can make the saves.”
Amato had entered last week ranked fifth in the country in goals-against average and and eighth in save percentage, but will likely move up the rankings this week. He has emerged as one of the nation’s top goalies, and Maryland coach John Tillman said the team has leaned on him frequently this season.
“When you’re in that spot, you hope your best players step up, and Niko was certainly up to the task today,” Tillman said. “He’s been great in the big moments for us. I think he’s really seeing the ball well over the last few weeks. I think [against] Navy, he didn’t feel like he had his best game. So he’s really dug in and really tried to do some extra work and worked on some things with a little bit more film, and we certainly needed every single one [Saturday].”Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun