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Last Line of Defense: Goalies Face Up to Tough Task

October 04, 1989|CHRIS FOSTER | Times Staff Writer

For the last two years, Corso has run what he calls the only goalkeepers school in the world. He has up to 50 kids, from as far away as Illinois and Texas, during the one-week camp.

"We tell them that they're going to be left alone a lot and give them drills they can use," Corso said. "We also tell them they shouldn't be doing the same conditioning as the rest of the team."

Of course, not all of the instruction is on technique.

"One of the first things I learned was to push the weights back on the goal," El Toro goalie Eric Terwilliger said. "That makes the front of the goal tip down and makes it smaller."

A standard practice, according to Corso.

Corso admits he takes the position too seriously at times. But he also said that most coaches in the United States, at all levels, are unqualified to coach goalies.

"A lot of times, goalies are treated different and coached the same as field players," Corso said. "That's on the college level as well as high school. They don't understand the position."

He also said that coaches don't realize how much the position, and game, has changed. Goalies are no longer expected to be just defensive players. They must also control the offense like a point guard does in basketball.

After a shot is missed, a goalie must start the offense with a lead pass. He also can become a shooter, especially in high school where the playing area is only 25 yards.

When Corso was the goalie coach for the national team, he instructed Craig Wilson, who became the premier goalie in the world. Wilson is a great defensive goalie, as he's 6-foot-6 with a wing-span of 6-9.

However, his talents are not limited to defense. His passing skills made the U.S. team even more dangerous.

"We really changed the game in 1980 and '84," Corso said. "Craig's technique as a passer has been copied by everyone. Goalies were looking to get the pass out to start the fast break."

Barnett, who used the technique successfully in the 1988 Olympics, is another who has long believed that the goalie is the key to the offense. He works with them to perfect their outlet passes and coordinate the offense.

"It's primarily a defensive position," Barnett said. "But any team that wants to fast break better have a goalie who can make that long pass."

The offensive-goalie idea has trickled down to the high school level in recent years.

"The goalie has got to direct the play," San Clemente Coach Steve Yancey said. "Not only does he have to make the correct pass, but he has to keep everyone aware of the time left on the shot clock. He also has to be a threat to score himself."

Corso has been less successful in convincing coaches of goalies' sanity. He says the notion that goalies are odd is more folklore than fact.

However, the facts don't exactly support his case. Even Barnett, who agrees with most of Corso's theories, is hard to convince.

"I think they are nuts," he said. "But that's part of being a good goalie. They're outgoing and hyper."

Barnett said a few years ago he had a goalie who didn't like to swim. Barnett requires his water polo players to also join the swim team, which brought the two into conflict.

"The day swim practice started, he showed up to school with his arm in a sling," Barnett said. "He said he dislocated his elbow and couldn't swim. He had it for weeks. One day I ran into his parents and asked how he got injured. They said, 'What?' He made the whole thing up so he wouldn't have to swim."

Almost every coach has an offbeat story about a goalie.

"You want creative people in the goal, someone who can make things happen," Yancey said. "Well, some of the stuff I've seen goalies do has been pretty creative. Besides, if you had a ball hitting you in the face all the time, you'd have a screw loose, too."

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