Freshman steps in for injured veteran, thrives in goal for Rutgers
Transitioning from high school up to the Division I level is drastic enough without the pressure of being your team’s last line of defense.
After joining a program that’s home to the most prestigious field hockey conference in the country, freshman Amanda Lamb was called upon seven games into the season to be the starting goalkeeper for the Rutgers field hockey team.
A Pheonixville, Pennsylvania, native, Lamb had previously been splitting time in goal with senior Shevaun Hayes before an injury left the veteran keeper unable to play.
Lamb took full reign between the pipes for the Scarlet Knights on Sept. 18th, when she earned her first career win as Rutgers set a program record with 13 unanswered goals against Siena.
Rookie is certainly not a term that comes to mind in describing Lamb’s performances thus far.
“You look at her and she doesn’t make freshman errors in there. She’s mature, I think she’s confident. She’s composed in there,” said head coach Meredith Civico. “I think the team and the coaching staff, we trust her. We trust her ability to make decisions. I think that’s really exciting to see out of a first year player.”
Lamb first suited up in goalkeeper equipment in sixth grade after playing the field for one season. Having been a soccer player before switching to field hockey, Lamb had built up skill with her feet that she was unable to use in field positions.
With keepers being the only player legally allowed to kick the ball, goalkeeping suited Lamb well.
As for the pressure that comes with her position, Lamb’s mentality is simple.
“Goal goes in, that’s it — it’s over with. Focus on the next one because if you’re focusing on that goal that just went in, you’re psyching yourself out for everything else,” Lamb said. “You just gotta get over it quickly and that’s it — it’s done.”
Lamb has tallied 28 saves for a .622 save percentage on the season across six starts and ten total games.
Volunteer assistant coach Maddy Sposito works directly with the Knights’ goalkeeper unit and says that Lamb’s mentality has been a major influence on the freshman’s early success.
“She comes out and she just has that attitude that she won't let the ball get past her no matter what and for a Big Ten goalkeeper, that’s what we’re looking for because she’ll never give up,” Sposito said. “Everyday, she’s getting stronger. She’s learning which is the most important part.”
Lamb has not conceded more than 3 goals in five of her six starts.
Even though she thrives off the pressure on her shoulder pads, Lamb admitted that there was one occasion this season that exposed her Achilles heel.
“The first Big Ten game we had, I don’t know why — I’m not a person that usually gets nervous — but before that game I had such bad anxiety,” Lamb said. “My heart rate was probably up so high for two hours straight … But it helped me out because I play on adrenaline.”
With four conference rivals left on the schedule, Lamb will be well-aquainted to the threats and pressure that Big Ten competition poses as Rutgers has eyes on the postseason.
In essence, goalkeepers are the anchors of the circle, where the outcomes of games are determined — but Lamb has proven herself to both opponents and her team.
"It’s been a steady growth which is exciting and pleasant to watch. She’s very coachable," Sposito said. "Just that attitude and mentality of coming out everyday and just refusing to lose is her biggest strength."
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