While Century boys lacrosse was winning last year’s Carroll County title, little did coach Jeremy Benson know that a key to this year’s encore performance was sitting in the stands, yet to ever pick up a lacrosse stick.
In his six previous seasons, Benson’s Knights teams have traditionally featured strong goalies. Christopher Yanchoris is a team captain in his senior year at Siena and Nate Jones is in his first year playing at Frostburg State.
Benson was tasked with replacing Jones this year. Entering the competition was Jerrett Moyer, a football player who took up lacrosse for the first time over the summer.
“Most of my teammates told me about lacrosse and I started watching it,” said Moyer, now a senior. “It looked pretty fun. So I really wanted to get into it.”
Moyer worked during the summer learning the game and kept honing his craft as a goalie throughout the offseason.
“His senior year, when he’s not promised anything — there’s a few guys who have been playing lacrosse for more years and that’s what we’ve had the tradition of at Century — for him to put that time in and get shots in this offseason is huge,” Benson said.
Despite the work he put in, Moyer didn’t win the starting job. Undeterred, he kept working, and when starter Ben Bergamaschi suffered a concussion in the third game of the season, Moyer was thrust into duty.
“I started off really slow,” Moyer said. “I didn’t start the first few games. I really didn’t feel I was putting in too much effort, so before practices, after practices, I stayed working on my stick skills, on pretty much everything. Ever since then, I’ve gotten better and better, I feel. I really started showing my effort and putting my effort toward the team.”
In his time in goal, Moyer has been a wall. Anchoring the defense, he’s helped Century to an 8-3 record, including a 6-0 county mark. In his first two starts, he allowed just five goals each in wins over Manchester Valley and Crofton.
He quickly got thrown into the fire as county play heated up.
“We had Westminster and South Carroll, back-to-back overtime games,” Moyer said. “I felt all the pressure was on me when it came to my side of the field. During that, I knew I had to put all my effort into stopping that ball and talking to my defense and telling them what we got to do.”
Moyer and the Knights got the job done in both those games, giving him a confidence boost.
“Once he stepped up as the starter, really the first game he had a bunch of pretty big saves,” Benson said. “Then just going forward, he’s just been doing an awesome job.”
Benson has been impressed with the growth Moyer has experienced, not just in his on-the-field skills, but in his leadership.
“He’s a quiet kid to begin with, and I knew he’s been putting the time in before the season,” Benson said. “He always had a relatively good leadership role to him where he was doing the right thing and saying the right thing and doing the best he could. Once he became our starter, he became a little more vocal, breaking us out of our huddles a bit more, which is huge.
“We had an open competition and he didn’t win it at the very beginning, but we told him at the beginning of the year we’re going to keep our options open and go with whoever’s hot. He’s been able to lock it down and become more vocal and been a real leader.”
This has all developed in less than a year from a totally raw starting point.
“When I first started, I didn’t even know how to use a stick at all. I didn’t know what I was doing,” he said.
Once he started playing, his friends, teammates and coaches agreed that goalie was a solid fit.
“Last [summer], I started working with our last goalie, Nate Jones, and he felt like I was a goalie,” Moyer said. “I talked to the coaches and they thought that might be the best-suited position for me. I worked on it and I feel that was definitely my position.”
A lineman on the football team, he’s been able to transfer some similar skills.
“The footwork, it’s the exact same thing,” he said. “Side shuffling, pretty much throwing my hips.”
With the help of his friends, he learned the game and grew his skills. Now as a starter, he hasn’t stopped trying to improve.
“During the offseason, my buddy, one of our attackmen, Trent Hillis, me and him would come out every single day working and working, and ever since then I knew what to do on a one-on-one,” Moyer said. “During warmups, I always want our best shooter, Connor Zombro, to shoot on me as hard as he can, as fast as he can. I believe that because of Connor and Trent, I have definitely grown into the goalie position.”
The work is far from over. Playoffs are looming and the Knights have sights set on a long run. Moyer is a big reason Century is in the position it’s in, and will be a big factor in how far the Knights go.
“We’re on a hot streak, but I feel we really have to work our butts off,” Moyer said. “If we want that championship, we’re really going to have to work for it.”