Greenwich High School graduate Kyle Feeney is making quite a name for himself in the Patriot League as the starting goalie on the Bucknell Bisons lacrosse team. Feeney, a sophomore, is among the league's leaders in goals-against average and save percentage and was just named to the All-Patriot League Second Team. He has also been a vital component of a Bisons team that recently completed a perfect season in the Patriot League.
And now, it's playoff time.
Tonight, Feeney will be between the pipes against fourth-seeded Lehigh in the Patriot League semi-finals. If the Bisons win, they will take on the winner of the Colgate-Army match-up in the league finals on Sunday.
Greenwich Citizen caught up with Feeney recently to find out a little more about his team, his big season and the challenges of being a goalie at the college level.
You played lacrosse at Greenwich High School. What is the biggest difference between playing goalie in college versus high school?
The biggest difference between College and High School is the overall speed of the game. Teams move the ball so much quicker on offense and in clearing, putting even more pressure on the defense. Also in high school, there are maybe one or two guys per team that can really shoot the ball well. In college, everyone can shoot, and shoot well.
You've got to be a little nuts to play goalie! What skill set do you bring to the position?
I'd say I bring athleticism to goalie. Although I am far from a textbook athletic build (tall and lanky), I retained most of my quickness from when I was shorter, and play a really active game in the crease. It was fun in high school to run the ball up the field, but unfortunately our coaches here aren't too into that.
What is standard issue protective gear for goalies?
We wear a helmet with a special neck guard attached, a chest protector, gloves and a cup. Most goalies at this level forgo the armpads and shoulder protection in favor of mobility.
The gear seems minimal compared to that for a hockey goalie. Where are you most vulnerable, and how does it feel for that ball to hit your shin at 90 mph?
We definitely wear a lot loss than hockey goalies! I'd say the worst spot to get hit is in the calf. Shins and thigh shots hurt for a little while, but if you get a nice one in the calf, it could be tough to walk for a few days. Also despite specially made goalie gloves, which really only have one little extra piece of plastic on the thumb, thumbs can hurt pretty bad.
You play in the Patriot League. What is the competition level like?
The competition in the Patriot League is amazing. Getting to play Army and Navy every year, its a great experience. Those guys bring so much intensity and athleticism to the table, the only thing you can try and do is match them. Every team is pretty evenly matched, with three teams in the top 20 right now, including us.
Do you have an arch rival?
Its tough to say who exactly our archrival is in the Patriot League. While we'd like to think its Army or Navy (something like our last 8 games against Navy have been one goal games), that's obviously not the case. With Lehigh-Lafayette a seasoned rivalry, our rival pretty much comes down to Colgate. Every year we play them the last week of the season before the Patriot League tournament, and this year, it's for all the marbles. (Editor's note: Bucknell, ranked 12th in the nation, defeated Colgate 12 - 7 on Saturday, clinching the Patriot League regular season title and earning the right to host the Patriot League Tournament, which begins tonight.)
Playing in the northeast, have you come across other Greenwich teammates or foes from your past?
Yes. Jake Clarke is a captain of our team this year and is also a Greenwich alum. In fact, my sophomore year at GHS, his senior year (he was also a captain then), we won the first-ever FCIAC championship for Greenwich. Hopefully, history repeats itself in the coming weeks.
You've been among the leaders in goals-against average and save percentage in the Patriot League. To what do you attribute your success?
The defense. We play a style of defense that limits good scoring opportunities, and forces low angle shots. If you look at the stats, I'm probably towards the bottom in saves/game, but near the top for GAA and save pct, which is a tribute to the hard work those guys put in.
How is the team looking going into the playoffs?
While this is only my second year here, I've never seen the team more fired up. We're currently tied for the school record for wins in a season, and getting to host the Patriot League tournament, and of course win it, has been a goal for us since the start. The comeback we had over Lehigh last week showed just how much determination and grit this team has. If all goes according to plan, we'll take care of business on Saturday night, and prepare for the tournament here at Christy.