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Goalies can hold key to postseason play

Spy Ponders’ fortunes lie with Schaejbe

Arlington’s Casey Schaejbe has been blocking more than 30 shots per game so far this season. Arlington’s Casey Schaejbe has been blocking more than 30 shots per game so far this season. (Jon Mahoney for The Boston Globe)
By Jason Mastrodonato
Globe Correspondent / February 16, 2012
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It’s almost game time at the Hayden Recreation Centre skating facility in Lexington and Arlington High School goalie Casey Schaejbe is not with the rest of her teammates.

Most of the Spy Ponders are suiting up in one of the visitors’ locker rooms and coach Jeff Mead is almost ready to give his pregame speech, but Schaejbe is sitting in a quiet room nearby.

Her headphones are tuned into some Katy Perry or Jessie J - consistent with her cellphone’s ringback tone, which blasts the latter’s upbeat hit, “Domino’’ - and Schaejbe is quiet. But her mind isn’t; it’s replaying highlight clips, the senior keeper turning away shots, one after another.

Visualization is the key to success, she says.

“Everyone has their own way to pump themselves up,’’ said senior cocaptain Michelle Reilly. “She’s always off by herself, doing her own thing, getting focused. And you can always tell from warm-ups that Casey is ready. She makes saves that are unbelievable - I don’t know how she does it.’’

When game time inches nearer, Schaejbe switches her iPod over to a clip from “Any Given Sunday,’’ of a motivational speech delivered by Al Pacino’s character, Tony D’Amato, coach of the fictional Miami Sharks.

And more often than not this season, Schaejbe’s pregame ritual has helped her gain focus and routinely turn aside 30-plus shots per game against many of area’s best teams.

“She’s the reason why we’re in this spot,’’ said Mead, whose squad needed two points in its final three games (against Reading, Winchester, and Arlington Catholic) to qualify for the postseason.

Reilly, who has played competitive hockey for more than a decade, said Schaejbe is “the best goalie I’ve ever played with. She’s definitely our MVP, as far as I’m concerned. She should probably be the [Middlesex League] MVP, too.’’

What makes Schaejbe’s season even more impressive has been the competition she’s played against, courtesy of a schedule Mead admittedly regrets creating in the preseason. But while the Spy Ponders (7-6-4 after a 3-2 loss to Lexington) have scored just 37 goals (while allowing 27) through 17 games, they’ve managed to beat Belmont (twice), take down Hingham (last year’s Division 1 state champion), tie undefeated Acton-Boxborough (neither team scored), and come up just one goal short against St. Mary’s, Woburn, and Arlington Catholic (each of which had 14 wins through Monday).

“We’re in every game,’’ Mead said. “We don’t have the offense Woburn or A-B or Hingham has, but when you do the little things right - and have solid goaltending - you put yourself in a good position.’’

Last week, after a 5-1 loss to Woburn (just the second time Arlington had lost by more than a goal this season), Mead sent a text message to Schaejbe to check in, something he does often.

“I told her, ‘It’s part of the game; you can’t expect to win them all and expect to be flawless every night,’ ’’ Mead recalled. “She responded back and said, ‘I have to.’

“She knows how important she is and I don’t want her beating herself up. It isn’t always the goalie’s fault. Casey has to realize that, too.’’

Whether it’s playing with a 101-degree fever or turning away a penalty shot against Woburn, Schaejbe continues to impress. It’s been that way since she first put on goalie pads eight years ago, when her mostly-boys team had rotated through the position and decided to give her a chance in the net.

“I still remember that,’’ she said. “I threw the pads on and we were playing the best team in the league. I shut them out. They said, ‘Wow. OK, you’re the new goalie.’ ’’

But as much as Schaejbe can accomplish between the pipes for Arlington, she can’t be relied upon to score goals (though she does have one assist on the season). Reilly, along with juniors Kaitlyn Morse, Eva Colarusso, Katie Cummings and the rest of the offense, will try to prolong Arlington’s season as long as they can.

But those in Arlington know that one bad game from the 5-foot-10, Franklin Pierce University-bound goalie could mean the end of the Spy Ponders’ season.

“I’m sticking with my same pregame routine if we qualify for the tournament,’’ she said. “The only difference is knowing that it could be the last game you ever play.’’

No pressure.

Borkan is bulwark for Medfield

If you’re going to a Medfield game, be sure to get a warm seat next to the Warriors’ defensive zone.

Coach Molly Norton admits the puck has spent a lot of time there this season, but junior netminder Mimi Borkan has handled the load just fine, allowing just 22 goals in 18 games.

“She always makes the first save,’’ Norton said. “Everybody knows you have to crash that net and look for rebounds against her. And if you get one, you better jump on it.’’

Lexington faces a nice conundrum

Lexington coach Mandy Ciarletta has a pair of goalies who have impressed: The only difficult part will be deciding on one for a postseason push.

Ciarletta has split time between senior Katie Legnard and sophomore Amanda Charlton, and the two have quietly kept opponents to 2.31 goals per game.

“They know they have good healthy competition amongst the two of them,’’ said the second-year coach. “They push each other. Next week we’ll see who is going to step up more and go with the goalie most beneficial for our club.’’

Here and there

Watertown-Melrose sophomore goalie Anna Kleis is starting to get comfortable in her first season as a starter. She’s allowed just seven goals over the last five games, and coach Steve Russo has been impressed. His squad recently forfeited wins against Wakefield and Wilmington due to the use of an ineligible player. Under new confidentiality guidelines, coaches are no longer handed eligibility lists, leaving that responsibility to school administrators. Russo said he had no idea he was using an ineligible player. . . . Acton-Boxborough eighth-grade goalie Cali Loblundo is making a strong case for Division 1 Player of the Year: The undefeated Colonials have allowed 13 goals through 17 games, the lowest goal total in the state.

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