Last line of defense: McDaniel has plenty of love for lacrosse
Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 23, 2023
Titans’ goalkeeper has been the CPC Defensive Player of the Year the last two seasons
By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier
Goaltenders in most sports don’t get to show much emotion because they wear a mask.
Although senior Morgan McDaniel of the West Forsyth girls lacrosse team wears a mask as a goaltender she still gets to display how she feels by the way she plays the game.
McDaniel has played field hockey at West Forsyth for the past four years, starting with goalkeeper, followed by playing the field. She has also played goalkeeper on the girls lacrosse team, her freshman season on JV, followed by the past three seasons on varsity.
“It was kind of funny, so I started freshman year as well with field hockey and I played goalie all the way up to my senior year with field hockey,” she said. “And I switched to field this year just for fun.
“We had Maggie Cass, she’s going to Ferrum to play. She’s a really good goalie. With field hockey, I don’t think that I could ever match her with that. So, I decided I might as well try field. And I actually loved it. It was a lot of fun.”
This past fall, McDaniel played forward on the field hockey team for the Titans.
“I know during a lacrosse game, sometimes I just wish I could rush onto the field and start playing,” she said. “Because once you watch it so much you feel like you could at least try to fix it if they’re doing something. So, it was nice being able to go out on the field and try to fix the things that I saw when I was in goal because it showed.”
It turns out playing goalie in field hockey is much different than playing the same position in lacrosse.
“I love lacrosse a lot better,” McDaniel said. “I think field hockey, I just get down on myself in goal. It was a lot harder, and you wear so many more pads. I kind of looked like a Transformer. It’s a different experience, I think.
“And the goal is as big as a soccer goal to stop that little ball.”
One person who has taken a keen interest in how McDaniel has progressed in goal for the Titans’ lacrosse team is Coach Doug Brawley.
“We’re always looking for someone to step into goal because not just anybody can play that position,” Brawley said. “It takes a special type of person. And when she was willing to learn, obviously that type of person gets your attention quickly.
“She played JV her freshman year, was promoted to varsity her sophomore year, where she earned (Central Piedmont 4-A) conference defensive player of the year (her) sophomore and junior year.”
By her own admission, McDaniel acknowledges that she plays goalie differently than others.
“I’ve been trying to focus more on my technique because Coach Kate (Mullen) always says that I am a very untraditional goalie,” she said. “She always says it, she says that it works for me, so that’s why she doesn’t want me to stop doing it the way I am.
“But I press out on the ball a lot, and I will come out of the goal and most goalies don’t do that. They usually stay in their position.”
Through Tuesday morning, West Forsyth is 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the Central Piedmont 4-A. In those eight games, McDaniel has a 6.1 goals-against average, which is slightly higher than the 5.3 she had last year in 21 games where the Titans finished 18-3 overall and 11-1 in the conference.
“So, I was defensive player of the year in conference my sophomore year and junior year,” she said. “So, I really want to get it this year, so I just have to push myself even harder than I have been these last two years.”
Brawley has high praise for McDaniel in goal.
“Without a doubt (she’s the best goalie in the conference) in my mind,” Brawley said. “(She’s) one of the best in the state. She’s just very much a team player. She doesn’t get rattled. She stays focused during the game. If you score on her she puts it behind her and worries about the next play, not the last one.”
West Forsyth was scheduled to have played Tuesday night at East Forsyth in a conference game, a home nonconference game against Lake Norman on Wednesday, and it is scheduled to play a conference game at home Friday night against Mount Tabor.
“Morgan’s just always been real easy and real approachable, easy to talk to,” Brawley said. “Even last year, I tend to always choose seniors for my captains. While that was still the case last year even as juniors, she received a lot of votes to be a captain from her classmates, from her teammates.
“She’s got a good attitude. She’s fearless in the goal. She’s supportive of her teammates. She doesn’t get mad at them. She’s positive when she addresses their issues, but she’s not afraid to tell them when they made a mistake.”
Not only is she stellar for the Titans in goal as a senior, she’s at the top of the class with extracurricular activities. She’s the president of the National Honor Society, the leader of the West Wackos, she was in the Homecoming Court last fall.
“I’m just ready to make as many memories as I can,” she said.
The last regular-season game is scheduled for April 21 at home against East Forsyth. After that, there will still be the conference tournament and NCHSAA tournament. But her time at West Forsyth is running out.
“Lacrosse just has all the room in my heart for the sport,” McDaniel said.
After graduation in June, McDaniel has decided to go to UNC Wilmington, which she chose without visiting. She will not play lacrosse in college.
“I’ve been keeping it to the back (of my head),” he said. “Senior night, I’m going to be in tears.”