Australian goalkeeper adjusts to US play style
The approximately 10,512 miles between New Jersey and Australia didn’t stop sophomore goalkeeper Shevaun Hayes from coming to Rutgers.
Hayes came to the U.S. for the opportunity of better competition. She has had to adjust to the playing style and preparation needed here, but she believes it’s made her a better overall player.
Coming to the U.S. and assimilating oneself is a daunting task, but Rutgers head field hockey coach Meredith Long thinks Hayes has been able to do it because of her personality.
“She is adventurous and up for a new experience,” Long said. “It’s a big risk coming to the U.S. and doing something you never thought about doing. She’s outgoing and adventurous. I think it’s a big reason she came over.”
At times, things have been different for Hayes. The weather in New Jersey doesn’t compare to the year-round warm weather “down under.”
“When I’m in class, sometimes I feel like an alien when I put my hand up and they all turn around and stare at me,” Hayes said.
As a freshman, Hayes started six games while making appearances in two other games. She had 39 saves to go along with a .765 save percentage last season.
Her early experience from freshman year has been huge for her development as a goalkeeper at the collegiate level.
“I think she played really well for us last year,” Long said. “She kept us in some really big games. The experience was huge coming into this season and Big Ten play. She is confident back there because she has been there before.”
Her experience has translated over for her this season, starting and playing every minute of the Scarlet Knights’ 15 games, posting a 6-9 record and a .685 save percentage while allowing 2.59 goals a game. She also ranks third in the Big Ten with 87 saves this season.
Hayes has been a goalie since she was 12 years old, when she was thrown into the position for her first ever game and thrived. From that game on, she was the permanent goalie.
As a goalie, there is the responsibility of organizing the players on the field in the way that is needed to be. The goalkeeper is the last line of defense, which absorbs all of the pressure.
Sometimes, that pressure plays on the goalkeeper’s mind.
“It gets to you because you are the last line of defense, and if you make one mistake, it ends in a goal, which hurts the team,” Hayes said.
Pressure is a huge factor in determining how one is able to answer the call when the opposing offense is driving. As a goalie, the pressure is on because they can be the reason the team wins or loses.
“It’s not physically demanding, but mentally, I would say, it’s the most demanding position,” Hayes said.
For Hayes, preparation is key. She studies film on the opponent’s corners as well as the tendencies of the players.
Hayes has been a big help to her teammates. As a goalie, she provides perspective for the forwards and midfielders when they are on the attack in practice, giving them advice on how to approach an opposition’s goalie.
“I’ve asked her several times, ‘What’s the hardest place [for her] to see?’” said sophomore midfielder Alyssa Bull. “She really encourages us to take those hard shots on her because it makes us better and her better at the same time.”
With the rest of this season and two years of eligibility left, Hayes can continue to improve and be a stalwart in the net for the Knights.
“When we recruited her, we knew that she was going to be a player that provided us with experience,” Long said. “We had high expectations of her coming in, and we knew that if she came in and played the way [we] thought she could that she’d be a stable for us for the next three or four years.”
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