11/29/13 12:00pm
11/29/2013 12:00 PM
COURTESY PHOTO/WILKES UNIVERSITY SPORTS INFORMATION | Alexis Reed making a sprawling save for Wilkes University (Penn.). Reed, a sophomore, started all 37 games she has played for WIlkes.

COURTESY PHOTO/WILKES UNIVERSITY SPORTS INFORMATION | Alexis Reed making a sprawling save for Wilkes University (Penn.). Reed, a sophomore, started all 37 games she has played for Wilkes.

At the end of June 2012, before her freshman year at Wilkes University (Penn.), Alexis Reed got the word that the only other goalie on the team’s field hockey team would not be playing. That meant that Reed was the one. She would be the one getting all the reps in three-hour practices. She would be the one facing the pressure of starting as a freshman in NCAA Division III competition. She would be the one with the spotlight on her.

Talk about being thrown into the fire from the start.

“It was either like you were going to sink or you’re going to sail,” said Reed, a Greenport High School graduate.

In essence, Reed’s education as a college goalie was compressed and intensive. It wasn’t always easy.

“I’m not going to lie, I called my mom crying a lot the first two weeks,” Reed said. “Everything was so new.”

Reed started all 17 games Wilkes played her freshman season, making 137 saves for a .753 save percentage. Wilkes brought in goaltending help for this past season, but Reed still started all 20 games as a sophomore. She helped the Lady Colonels win their first Freedom Conference championship since 1999 and gain their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1995.

In retrospect, Reed said being thrust into a starting role was probably the best thing that could have happened to her.

“It turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it elevated my game so much,” she said. “It was like probably the equivalent of playing two travel seasons, the progress I made in one season.”

Reed was a standout in high school for the former Greenport/Southold/Shelter Island team. A converted soccer goalie who took up field hockey for the first time as a sophomore, she led the Clippers to the playoffs in 2011 for the first time since at least 1987. Over the course of her three-year high school career, she posted a school record 19 shutouts, was a two-time team most valuable player and an All-County honorable mention selection as a senior.

As highly regarded as Reed was in high school, she soon learned that she had a lot of work ahead of her to adjust to the quicker, more demanding college game.

“In college, the balls are coming so much faster, and I wasn’t as fast as I thought I was,” she said. “I feel like I was such a novice. I was like a baby goalkeeper. I knew I had a lot to work on, but I didn’t know how much I had to work on.”

Reed, who had relied on her natural ability in high school, discovered that wasn’t enough any more. She focused on her technique, working on her footwork and practicing cutting down angles. Conditioning and strength training also helped her deal with the rigors of college field hockey.

For Reed, it was the perfect example of the old saying: The more you learn, the more you learn how much you don’t know.

“I can be totally honest and say I don’t know everything and I do have a lot to work on,” she said. “I feel like I’m in the beginning stage, but I can only get better.”

Wilkes recently completed a memorable season. Reed said the team’s coach, Mollie Reichard, took a leave of absence and a graduate assistant, Kealy Chipman, served as the interim coach.

The Lady Colonels defeated nearby Misericordia University (Penn.), 2-1, in overtime in the conference final. Reed made several key stops in the game.

“Everyone worked so hard,” Reed said. “… Literally, the entire team stepped up their entire game. It was such a great experience. We said: ‘We don’t want this to end. We want to come back year after year.’ ”

The postseason ride ended for Wilkes, however, in their first-round NCAA Tournament game, a 5-0 loss to Ursinus (Penn.). That left the Lady Colonels with an 8-12 record.

Reed, who made 14 saves against Ursinus, finished the season with a 3.04 goals against average. She made 174 saves and had a .740 save percentage.

Those early difficult days at Wilkes must now seem like a long time ago for Reed, an elementary education major with a certification in special education. She said the school in the mountains of northeast Pennsylvania is now her home away from home.

“Everything does happen for a reason,” she said. She added: “It’s the best thing I probably could have done, to get myself recruited and play college field hockey. You have a team full of sisters who genuinely care.”

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08/30/11 2:47pm
08/30/2011 2:47 PM

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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