Field Hockey: Stopping shots is a rush for Clippers’ Reed

BOB LIEPA PHOTO | Greenport/Southold/Shelter Island goaltender Alexis Reed has drawn interest from a number of colleges.

Like a rising shot, Alexis Reed’s field hockey career has been on a continual incline ever since she took up the sport as a sophomore.

Erin Creedon, a senior defenseman who joined the Greenport/Southold/Shelter Island Clippers that same year, saw firsthand the dramatic progress that Reed, a converted soccer goalkeeper, made. Creedon said her first impression from seeing Reed play goal for the Clippers was: “Wow! She’s really good. She’s a natural.” Then, Creedon said, “We came back the next year, and she had been playing travel [ball], and I was just like: ‘Whoa! She’s even better!’ She stopped, in a scrimmage against Shoreham-Wading River, maybe like 20 shots in a period of like a minute. They were shooting, and she just fought them off.”

This past winter, Creedon played with Reed in an indoor league. “She was doing split saves, some crazy dives,” Creedon said, “so, I think she even got better over the winter.”

It has been a busy summer for Reed, who played in showcases and tournaments. She was in goal for East End Field Hockey, which finished 25th out of 32 teams in the National Club Championships in Virginia in late July.

“There were straight shots, flicks, reverses,” Reed said. “There was every single shot you could think of, and hard hockey and aggressive players, and it was the best hockey I probably ever played.”

It was great preparation for Reed’s senior season with the Clippers, who started preseason practice on Monday at Greenport High School.

“One day she picks it up and the next thing I know she’s on traveling teams,” Greenport/Southold/Shelter Island Coach Todd Gulluscio said. “I’ve seen her play at Sacred Heart in tournaments. She’s been all over the country doing this thing. She has a gift.”

Reed was an all-division goalie her first two seasons. Last year she was rated as the top goalie in Suffolk County Division III. She had an .86 save percentage and all six of the Clippers’ wins came on shutouts that she posted. In June she was selected as Greenport High School’s female athlete of the year by The Suffolk Times.

“It’s been a progression in development every day, every single day since she started out here; every day is better,” Gulluscio said. “There’s not a goalie in any division that I would trade for her.”

Although he is modest about it, Gulluscio acknowledged that he was the one who saw a potential field hockey goalie in Reed when she was still a soccer goalie. Reed hasn’t let him or the Clippers down since, playing with tenacity and anchoring a defense that keeps the goal-scoring-challenged Clippers in games.

“You’re happy that’s working for you instead of somebody else,” Gulluscio said. “It gives you a boost of confidence, coaches and players. It gives you a boost of confidence knowing that, hey, look, chances are that we have the best goalie on the field today, so if we play our game and do all the right things, we should come out with a victory, but that’s not an excuse to let her do all the work, either.”

Reed will play behind a defense that includes the likes of Sarah Manfredi, Lauren Ficurilli, Emily King, Megan Mundy, Kerri Hands and Sarah Tuthill.

Being a goalie is not easy, facing shots that reach 90 mile per hour with a ball that is as hard as a rock. It’s not uncommon for Reed to walk away from the field at the end of the day with welts and bruises on her body. “You have to be a little bit crazy,” she said.

But she loves it. Why?

The rush of a big save.

“The adrenaline,” she said. “You can’t find it anywhere else.”

Most of the games Reed plays in are on grass, but she prefers AstroTurf, for two reasons: 1. She is allergic to bees; and 2. It’s an easier playing surface to dive on. Reed loves to dive.

“When AstroTurf is wet, it’s like diving on water,” she said.

Field hockey appears to be in Reed’s future, too. She wants to play in college, and has drawn interest from a number of colleges, including Pennsylvania, Sacred Heart, Drexel and C.W. Post.

Before then, though, she has one more high school season ahead of her. Like many of her teammates, Reed was enthusiastic about the first practice and the promise of a new season.

“Everything’s new and exciting,” she said. “It’s like Christmas morning where you’re waking up and going downstairs early.”

Gulluscio has many details to attend to and undoubtedly has concerns, such as where the goals will come from, but goaltender is one position he doesn’t have to worry about, thanks to Reed. “She’s ready to lead the team,” he said. “She’s ready to go. She’s ready to win.”

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