Third-string goalie Byrne growing under tutelage of Richardson, Costantino

first_img Published on April 3, 2013 at 2:06 am Contact Phil: [email protected] | @PhilDAbb Facebook Twitter Google+ Kelsey Richardson and Alyssa Costantino receive most of the practice time in the cage. They rotate back and forth, clanking their sticks together in encouragement each time they pass each other.But Shannon Byrne isn’t forgotten. The freshman third-stringer still has her opportunities to practice in net. And the goaltenders’ sticks still clank together, regardless of which netminders are switching out.“I definitely really look up to them,” Byrne said, “and watching them play I think definitely helps make me better.”Byrne, who has yet to make her collegiate debut, may be left out of Syracuse’s two-goalie platoon, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t a part of it. As No. 8 Syracuse’s third-string goalie, she is making the most of her practice time and has made progress in the cage in her first season at SU (5-3, 1-0 Big East), leaving the impression that she could be an answer in the future, after the departures of Costantino or Richardson.“I just appreciate her willingness to jump in and take shots when we need a goalie and shooting drills and all that,” head coach Gary Gait said. “Just that repetition alone will help her.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textByrne’s been playing lacrosse since second grade, she said, but wasn’t a goalie until her Skaneateles (N.Y.) High School team needed someone to step into the cage. Then a sophomore, Byrne volunteered, and she hasn’t regretted it since.But no college teams contacted her. Living 30 minutes away from SU, the school she “always wanted to go to,” Byrne reached out to the Orange’s coaching staff. Gait and assistant coach Regy Thorpe had seen Byrne play against their daughters in high school.“She’s a good kid and she’s certainly not afraid of the ball, and I think that was key,” Gait said. “We were looking for someone to come in who wanted the opportunity to get lots of shots and knowing that they were third goalie at this point and be willing to learn and improve. And that’s what she’s doing.”Not only is Byrne learning from the other goalies, but the freshman is also under the tutelage of Syracuse assistant coach Brett Queener, who Richardson called “one of the best goalies in the guys’ game.”As Byrne works with Queener, Richardson has noticed an improvement in Byrne’s fundamentals and positioning, as well as a boost in confidence. One of Byrne’s strengths, Costantino said, is her knack for intercepting passes.Richardson and Costantino are especially skilled in communicating with the defenders, Byrne said. Their ability to communicate is one of the many aspects of goaltending that Byrne observes and ultimately learns from her teammates.“All three of us work together,” Costantino said. “We help her every day in there. We all build off each other.”Practice isn’t easy for any of the Orange’s goalies. Each and every day, they face shots from talented players like Alyssa Murray, who led the country in points a year ago, and Michelle Tumolo, who is rapidly climbing SU’s all-time leaderboards.But that’s what helps Syracuse’s goalies improve, and Byrne is no exception.“She’s definitely getting better,” Gait said. “I think she’s learning how to be a goalie and she’s figured out her teammates, where they like to shoot, and that’s part of the learning process. When you can start understanding how players shoot and what their tendencies are, that’s a big step. And that’s a next step to starting to analyze opponents and the way they like to shoot.”Like every other player on the team, Gait said, the freshman has room for improvement before she’s promoted from the practicing rotation to the playing field – particularly on low saves and clears, Byrne said. The Orange hasn’t signed a goalie recruit from the next incoming class, but Gait expects to add a netminder in one of the following years.Regardless, the future of the goalie system will likely mirror the current pecking order on the Manley Field House practice field.Byrne will have her opportunity to compete – after junior Costantino and sophomore Richardson are finished with their turns.“I definitely think that she can be (the starter),” Richardson said. “If she keeps working with Brett, like how much she’s improved lately, I think that definitely coming in the next couple of years, she’s going to be a great replacement for Alyssa and I.” Commentslast_img read more