For Severna Park senior goalie Shane Carr, studying film and double-checking scouting reports come first.
Any tendency he can find on an opponent — the plays teams prefer to run in a pinch and where top shooters like to aim — can provide an advantage.
And before every game, he clears his head of distractions and visualizes success on the field — a big save and then a smooth outlet pass is soothing.
So when the fourth quarter of the state championship game is tied and a long-stick midfielder gets a return pass from an attackman and hits the alley to get a one-on-one chance, Carr is more than ready.
“It was a kick save,” said Carr, recollecting the big stop that helped lead the Falcons to an 8-7 overtime win over Churchill for their third straight state championship last season.
“In those moments, you don’t think, you just react, so I just saw him and laid out for it. When you make a save like that — nothing beats the feeling because it’s like you helped the team so much. It’s hard to beat that.”
The eight-time state champion Falcons have always been hard to beat. When Carr is in goal, they have never lost in his 41 career starts. In his sophomore season, Severna Park successfully defended its title with a 20-0 mark. After missing the first three games of his junior season with an injury, Carr helped the Falcons rattle off 15 straight wins for another crown. This season, they are off to a 6-0 start going into Friday’s showdown against Anne Arundel County rival Broadneck.
Word is out on his impressive undefeated string, but he keeps things in perspective.
“Now that more people are talking about it, I have thought about it some, but it’s not the most important thing,” he said. “I don’t play to be undefeated or become first-team all-county. I play for championships — that’s what matters at the end of the day.”
It’s no surprise that Severna Park coach Dave Earl said Carr’s biggest assets are his fine character and consistency.
“The biggest thing about Shane is he rarely gives up a bad goal,” Earl said. “He seems to make all the saves he’s supposed to make, which is huge. Most goalies tend to have a letdown in focus or something, but that never seems to happen with Shane. He’s just incredibly focused, sees the ball well, has great technique. He’s just a leader of the defense and when we have a guy like him back there, it gives them a lot of confidence.”
This season, the Falcons are leaning more heavily than usual on a defense that returned intact, while the offense is relying on several new starters. In addition to Carr, defensemen Matt Alton, Benjamin Morgan and Mark Bredeck as well as long-stick midfielder Trent Bellotte have been more than up to the task, with the team outscoring its opponents 88-17 in the five wins.
Carr has turned aside 76 percent of the shots he’s faced.
“I’ve been friends with Shane for around 10 years now and it’s good to be back there with someone you now so well,” said Alton, a fellow senior. “Shane makes big plays. And if he makes one big play, there’s usually another big play coming. He’s always fired up and always gets us fired up.”
First-year defensive coordinator Travis Loving, who spent 17 years as an assistant coach at Pennsylvania power Haverford, has already seen some different things from Carr in his short time at Severna Park. He has yet to see Carr have a bad warmup, and during critical moments, he said Carr reacts differently than most goalies.
To this day, he doesn’t care much for running, and that was more the case back then. So when his new coach announced on the first day of practice that whoever wanted to play in the goal didn’t have to run laps, Carr quickly raised his hand and said, “Pick me, Coach!”
All the time he has spent in goal, along with the time spent studying the position, has been put to good use. He always finds himself in the right position, quick to make saves and just as quick to distribute and send the Falcons in the other direction.
“He is my biggest nightmare in the goal,” Broadneck coach Clay White said. “I do not see any weaknesses — quick hands, great position, terrific leader. He will have a great career at Michigan.”
Carr is banking on a few more fine moments at Severna Park before heading off to Ann Arbor. As for being in those moments, facing the task of stopping a point-blank shot to help determine the outcome of a big game? He doesn’t hesitate to say he hates them.
“After the fact, I love winning the close games. But in the moment, it’s the most stressful thing ever,” he said. “But it definitely pays off in the end. It all goes back to what we practice and have learned. It’s the hours and hours of preparation put into the season that allows you to have something to fall back on.”