Ross Blumenthal has always been the epitome of hard work, but few thought the results would come so quickly.
Four games into his freshman season at Drexel, he has become the Dragons starting goalie. Not only has he taken over the position, but the Baltimore native and Friends School graduate has been a spark as Drexel (4-4) has won three of its past four games with Blumenthal on the field.
It might not sound like a big deal, but few players from the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B conference ever start at a Division I school, especially from a small school like Friends.
“Well, let’s just say this — he always worked his tail off and he continued to get better and better every year,” said Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly, who coached Blumenthal during summer league play with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
“I don’t want to minimize what he has done,” Kelly said. “I am surprised that he is starting this early. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was starting as a junior or senior because he just works so hard on his game. He has proved to be a great pickup for Drexel and he is playing fantastic lacrosse.”
The 6-foot-1, 175 pound Blumenthal has beaten Saint Joseph’s (Pa.), No. 11 Villanova and lost to No. 14 Georgetown. Last week, he recorded 12 saves in Drexel’s 15-9 win over Providence and was named Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week. He has a 9.60 goals against average and a .506 save percentage.
He is a throwback, the poster child for when coaches preached that hard work would guarantee results. He isn’t overly athletic and doesn’t have lightning-quick reflexes, but he simply outworks people.
“One reason I knew Ross would be successful at the next level, besides talent, was the amount of time he put into the game,” said Friends lacrosse coach Bill Ball. “While he wasn’t the only player that always attended offseason workouts twice a week, he was the only player that would be watching film at night and coming into me with questions about what he and the team could do better.
“His love for the game and desire to improve were infectious and big reasons as to why we had one of our best seasons in recent memory last year.”
Blumenthal is also very smart. His father, Roger, and mother, Wendy Post, are cardiologists at Johns Hopkins Hospital. A major part of a goalie’s game is positioning, and Blumenthal knows how to work the angles. If he can’t make the save with his stick, then he might use a foot or shoulder.
In Drexel’s first four games, Dragons coach Brian Voelker went with goalies John Roulston and John Van Sickle as his starters before playing Blumenthal after Jacksonville beat Drexel, 19-12.
That’s when Blumenthal knew he had a chance. His hard work was about to pay off.
“After the Jacksonville game, he brought all the goalies together and told us we were going to have opening tryouts and have open reps throughout the week,” Blumenthal said. “They would then decide who the goalie was going to be after those three or four practices.
“I hadn’t been getting a lot of reps in the previous week. That was for the starter and the backup goalie. But I felt pretty good about my chances because I was taking extra shots every day after practice.”
That’s vintage Blumenthal.
He loves the underdog role as much as he likes listening to rap artists Lil Wayne and Drake. He is also into using Photoshop to create digital posters and designs and has done work for the American Heart Association, the Bill Belichick Foundation and designed covers for Johns Hopkins lacrosse programs and publications.
But the kid’s first love is lacrosse, and for years he has walked around with a chip on his shoulder wanting to prove his could play lacrosse at a high level.
Only one Division I school (Bryant) showed any interest in signing him, and the others were Division III. At the beginning of the season, he thought he was going to be redshirted and he was held out of all preseason scrimmages.
Now he is the starter and isn’t about to give the position back.
“It’s exciting,” Blumenthal said. “The other goalies had chances to play and you can’t point fingers at them. Our defense made some mistakes, too. And I can’t say our recent wins were because of me only. I think our defense has picked up and we’re playing well, and hopefully we can jell more as the season moves along.”