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Greg Swenson was at home in the goal for ECC champion East Lyme
One has to have a different mindset to be a goalie, especially in boys' lacrosse. Saves don't get the kind of attention that scoring does, and then there's the matter of having the ball fired at you over and over.
East Lyme High School senior Greg Swenson isn't quite sure why he chose to play goal. He just loves it.
"People always look at me like I'm crazy," Swenson said. "'Why do you play goalie?' I really liked it. That sounds weird because you're getting balls fired at you.
"I just enjoy it and feel most comfortable when I'm in the goal."
Swenson, who helped the Vikings win their fourth straight Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament championship, has been named The Day's 2014 All-Area Boys' Lacrosse Player of the Year.
"He's a natural leader on the field," East Lyme coach Gary Wight said. "I've known him since he was in elementary school. He was actually in my (second-grade) class. It's kind of neat to see him grow up into a young man with great character and a tremendous work ethic."
Swenson grew up in a lacrosse family. His father, Tim, was a midfielder at Clarkson. His older brothers, Mike and Bryan, also played at East Lyme.
Swenson started youth lacrosse in third grade and played every position except for goal. That changed once he got to eighth grade.
"We needed a goalie, and I said, 'yeah, I'll play it,'" Swenson said. "I just kind of stepped in. ... (I thought) 'I guess I'm good at it', so I just stuck with it."
Swenson had 219 saves this season and was named All-ECC for the third straight year. He had an astonishing 29 saves in a 4-3 overtime loss to Glastonbury on May 6.
East Lyme built itself around its veteran defense after graduating a number of its offensive players, and Swenson was the catalyst.
"He was our general out there," Wight said. "He ran everything. He'd set the tone of the game and the whole season he shut down teams. He kept us in so many games and he was very humble about it. He was definitely all about the team."
Swenson is very laid back, a trait that he believes helps him during games.
"I'm yelling and directing traffic, but most of the time I'm pretty laid back," Swenson said. "I think my laid-back personality helps with being calm, cool and collected, particularly when I let a goal in. That's what helps me and that's what makes me have the mental toughness."
Swenson will attend Drew University in New Jersey and plans to major in economics and perhaps teaching. He'll also play two sports, soccer and lacrosse. He played basketball at East Lyme, as well.
Swenson was hoping to go a school that would let him play both lacrosse and soccer. He won't be playing goal in the latter, though.
"Going through youth and high school soccer, goalie never appealed to me," Swenson said. "In lacrosse, I saw more action. Soccer, I saw a lot more standing around. There are times I do stand around in lacrosse, but most of the time, I'm pretty engaged."
Player of the Year: Greg Swenson (East Lyme)
A - Henry Hunt (Old Lyme)
A - Will Iorio (Stonington)
A - Nic Page (East Lyme)
M - Mark Chmielewski (East Lyme)
M - Nick Lauer (Ledyard)
M - Jack Riordan (Stonington)
LSM - Machlan Sawden (Old Lyme)
D - Jake Giannelli (NFA)
D - Jacob Gordon (East Lyme)
D - Josh Turkowski (Old Lyme)
SSD - Adam Reinhold (Fitch)
G - Paul Bossardet (Ledyard)
Utility - Griffin Woods (East Lyme)