There’s a lot left to be written about Johns Connors’ third year as the starting goalkeeper at Navy, but the senior could graduate later this spring as one of the best at his position produced by the program.
Connors became the 13th player in Midshipmen history to record 300 saves in his career after making a season-best 12 stops in a 13-6 victory over Patriot League foe Bucknell on March 5. With 309 saves, he needs just 47 more to move into the Top 10 and is on pace to finish with 367 for his career.
“So far, John’s been solid,” coach Rick Sowell said Wednesday. “I think there were a few games early where maybe he wasn’t playing at his best, but we could have said that for a number of our players. If you go back to our last game against Bucknell, he had 12 saves and some early that really set the tone. We feel good about John, we feel good about our defense, and hopefully, he’ll pick up from where he left off in the Bucknell game.”
In his sophomore year, Connors was locked in a fierce competition with then-senior Paul Zimmerman to open the 2014 campaign as the starter. Connors has started all 33 games since that time, and Sowell said he has watched the goalkeeper’s growth.
“He’s come a long way,” Sowell said. “He has matured as all our guys have. … We’ve seen a nice development from that standpoint. From playing the position, we think he’s gotten better, too, over time. It’s not always easy being a goalie. Sometimes you’re seeing shots point-blank. We try to avoid those situations, but how we evaluate all of our goalies is, how is the defense playing in front of them? Are they giving up the shots we want to give up? That goes back and forth. Sometimes we feel like our defense – when we have struggled – has put John in tough situations. And there are times when the goalie feels like, ‘Man, I should have had that save.’ We think John has had a good year so far, and hopefully, the best is still to come.”
The 6-foot, 198-pound Connors is one of the team’s emotional sparkplugs and brings a certain charge to the defense, Sowell said.
“He definitely gets emotionally charged out there,” he said. “But he’s not a crazy man by any means. He’s one of our leaders on that end of the field. So if a goal is scored, he brings the guys in and they talk about it. Or if there’s a breakdown within our defensive scheme, he’s quick to get the guys back in their place. So he’s been a real good leader in that regard, and that’s where we’ve seen the growth and development from 2014.”