In his first two years with the Stevenson men’s lacrosse program, Marc Poust was one of several backup goalkeepers. For a former four-year starter who set the Pennsylvania state record for career saves (1,056), the situation was less than ideal.
But any doubts Poust might have had about his lacrosse future dissipated every time he talked to his father, William K. Poust.
“With him, even when I wasn’t the starter, I still felt like the starter around him,” Marc Poust said with a chuckle. “Either way, I could do no wrong. He was just very supportive. He was obviously proud, but I could be the first guy on the list or the last guy on the list, and he was still there supporting me.”
In his last two full years, Poust developed into the primary starter for the Mustangs. This past spring, the team went 9-2 before losing to Christopher Newport, 10-5, in the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament May 16. Poust wrapped up his senior season ranked 16th among 192 goalies in goals-against average (7.77) and 22nd in save percentage (.598).
It was a year-long performance Poust’s father would have delighted in.
Bill Poust died March 22 of what the family believes was a blood clot in his lungs at his home in Horsham, Pennsylvania. He was 62 and leaves behind Marc and older brothers Michael and Matthew, three stepchildren and four grandchildren with a fifth due next month.
“I honestly still don’t believe it,” Marc Poust, 25, said Thursday. “It’s just crazy in general. How sudden it was threw me off a little bit.”
Bill Poust and his three sons were close since Bill and Kim Poust divorced after Marc’s birth. A single father, Bill Poust raised his sons to be prompt and face adversity without blinking.
“It was interesting growing up with a single parent,” Marc Poust recalled. “It was four guys in a house growing up. We were very tight.”
The family patriarch’s health began deteriorating shortly before he was discharged from the Navy sometime in 1996 after 19 years and nine months of service as a mechanic who worked on helicopters. While undergoing back surgery, Bill Poust began experiencing problems when blood pressure cuffs applied to his legs during the procedure damaged circulation in his legs. Karen Poust, who began dating Bill Poust in 2005 before marrying him in 2018, said her husband underwent seven additional operations to preserve his legs.
Those who knew Bill Poust said he was happiest attending his sons’ sporting events. He especially loved watching Marc play lacrosse first at Hatboro-Horsham High School and then Stevenson.
“His father was at all of the games and loved Marc,” Mustangs coach Paul Cantabene said. “His father went through a lot of issues, but he was at every game. You could tell how close he was to his father, and through all of that, he never missed a game. There was no bigger fan of Marc than he was.”
In 2017, a blister on Bill Poust’s left foot became infected, and the infection spread. In July, doctors amputated his left leg and then his right leg in January 2019 after another similar infection.
Despite the sudden loss of mobility, Karen Poust said her husband refused to surrender.
“He was the strongest person I had met in my life,” she said. “If he needed to get up three hours early to get down to Maryland, then that’s what we did. I saw that man literally crawl through front doors or crawl out of the car and into the wheelchair. Unless he was in the hospital, that man wasn’t missing a game of Marc’s.”
Marc Poust said he marveled at his father’s fortitude.
“You would imagine him showing some type of weakness,” he said. “But even after all of that, mental toughness and mental strength were his biggest things. It was incredible, honestly.”
Poust, who left school for two years after his freshman year in 2015 to help his father and stepmother, said his father was difficult to miss at Stevenson’s home games.
“He was the loudest guy,” he said with a chuckle. “He was either supporting me or not supporting the referees. He definitely wasn’t a quiet fan.”
Karen Poust said on March 22, her husband was getting ready to receive his second vaccination for the coronavirus and laid down on their bed for some rest. An hour later, she found him there and called her son, Dominic DeFazio, a two-time All-American defenseman and assistant coach for the Mustangs.
Marc Poust said he was getting ready for practice when he received a call from DeFazio, and the stepbrothers drove home. (“He said, ‘Hey, we need to talk,’” Poust said. “Right when he said that, I kind of knew that something was up.”) After his father was buried March 29, Poust returned to campus in Owings Mills and his usual role as the starting goalkeeper.
Stevenson honored Bill Poust’s memory by affixing a nameplate to Marc Poust’s locker and dedicating that locker to Bill Poust. Cantabene said it was obvious the impact his father’s death had on Marc Poust.
“He’s a silent leader, and he’s always been there for us, but I think when his father passed, you just saw how everything meant just a little more to him,” Cantabene said. “He was a little bit more dialed in, and whatever the reason was for that, I think he understood that everybody here just rallied around him, and he didn’t want it to end. So when that happened, his game really picked up, and he was playing not only for his teammates, but also his family and his father. His play over that period of time, I’ve never seen a goalie play as well as he had, and it was a huge difference in how successful we were.”
Poust credited his career season to his maturation in the cage.
“I think I was just another year wiser,” he said. “After playing so many years at goalie, it’s either your day or it’s not your day, and luckily, I was able to stack a couple of my days. I didn’t make any crazy adjustments after last season. I think it was just going out there and playing and being confident in the defense.”
But Poust, who shared his father’s dog tags from the Navy with his two older brothers, also said he felt his father’s presence in a home game against Eastern in which the Mustangs trailed 8-5 after three quarters before rallying for a 10-9 overtime win on April 10.
“In the fourth quarter, I just kept looking up, and every time I would look up or touch the dog tags, we would make a play and score on the other end,” Poust said. “So it was kind of interesting how that worked. I think there were signs there. You can’t overthink the signs because you’ve got to take them in stride, but there were definitely moments when I said, ‘He’s here.’”
Karen Poust said her husband’s death has reverberated throughout the family.
“I look around and expect him to be there to help me with an answer,” she said, adding that the couple’s fifth grandchild will need heart surgery. “So I find myself talking to him, ‘All right, enough is enough, I got you up there, and I need your help on this one.’ Because that’s what I always did. If I was irrational about something or one of the kids did something, we would sit down and talk about it. I miss that.”
Marc Poust has another year of eligibility remaining, but will graduate this summer with a bachelor’s in legal studies and is aiming to apply to law school. He said what he remembers the most about his father was car rides together to lacrosse camps or the grocery store.
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“We just had man-to-man discussions in the car,” Poust said. “You just knew conversations were going to happen. And that’s what I will miss the most. Just being able to call him, especially after a final exam or a game. Just talking to him.”