Netminder: Barghout, a senior, has learned the craft of playing goalkeeper in lacrosse after playing the same position in soccer

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 4, 2024

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By Jay Spivey

For the Clemmons Courier

CLEMMONS — The West Forsyth boys lacrosse team is having a season that most teams would like to forget, but one silver lining is the play of goaltender Matthew Barghout. 

Barghout, a senior, is part of a team that, sitting this week idle during spring break, is 0-10 overall and 0-8 in the Central Piedmont 4-A. 

According to Titans Coach Jacob Able and what has been reported on, Barghout recently unofficially set the school record for most career saves, breaking the previous record of Nathan Whitener. And that’s after he set the school’s single-season record for saves last year as a junior, finishing with 156, according to Barghout. 

“Coach told me before the East Forsyth game (this season) that I was five saves away from it,” Barghout said. “I knew that season I broke the all-time in one season, the most saves in one season. And after that season I was in the top three for saves. I didn’t know how close I was I was to one until that game.” 

Knowing that, someone might think Barghout has been playing lacrosse for years. No. He just started playing just before last season. 

“I had never played lacrosse,” he said. “I came out on a random Tuesday because one of my friends convinced me and from there on, I played.” 

Barghout is quick to give credit to his success in lacrosse to another sport. 

“I would say I would attribute it a little bit to soccer because I am also the goalie for soccer,” he said. “So, it was like the reaction time and stuff like that was really, like really similar.  

“And Coach Able’s a great coach. So, he taught me, I mean it took a while for me to get like the actual mechanics of passing the ball and using my stick. But I was able to catch on pretty quickly because I already knew how to play soccer goalie. I was able to get my body in places to block the ball.” 

Able, who played college lacrosse at North Greenville University, didn’t know what to expect when he first saw Barghout attempt to play goalkeeper in lacrosse after his being so familiar to playing goalkeeper in soccer. 

“I’ve never met anyone before, or worked with anyone before, who went from playing soccer goalie to lacrosse goalie. So, I wasn’t sure how it would translate, or if it would be an easy thing to pick up for him. But he’s been killing it ever since he started.” 

Barghout is quick to credit Able for how much he’s worked with him on picking up the nuances of being a lacrosse goalkeeper. 

“He has great, just naturally being a soccer goalie and stuff, he’s got a great sense of just stopping the ball,” Able said. “He’s got good reactions, good hand-eye coordination, and he does a good job of moving his body to get in the way of the ball.” 

Other than the width of the goals and size of the ball in both sports there are some other things Barghout had to learn. 

“There are a few other technical things that he wasn’t as good at,” Able said. “He wasn’t as good at moving his feet as much as he needed to. There’s certain things that you’ve got to do with your hands and positioning and tracking the ball, and all that kind of stuff.  

“There’s just a lot of things he had to pick up on. And then the actually being able to throw and catch and clear the ball because just like anybody else who starts playing lacrosse you have to learn how to throw the ball and catch the ball. You have to understand how the defense works because as the goalie it’s his job to get everybody organized, call out the slides and tell everybody where they need to be.” 

In a sense Barghout was a fish out of water even though he plays goalkeeper in two different sports. 

“When I first started playing lacrosse when they would go low I would kind of do the same thing as soccer. I would dive low to try and get it,” he said. “So, right now since I’ve been playing for a year, I haven’t done that, but the reaction time for lacrosse, it’s much higher than soccer. It’s a whole different game, but soccer kind of set the fundamentals. So, it wasn’t like I was coming in blind.” 

Just like with anything you for the first time, Barghout had to retrain his mind for playing the same position, just in a different sport. 

“There’d be times in the goal where I’d have to remember that I can’t actually dive for the ball, or I can’t like use my hands,” Barghout said. “I have to, it’s like I have to use my stick. It’s not all my body and stuff like that. I have to train myself to not fall into like soccer habits.” 

There is very little protection and padding in lacrosse, so goalkeepers have to be wary of a very hard ball whizzing toward him. 

“In lacrosse there is definitely a fear factor starting out,” Barghout said. “…It was definitely a hurdle I had to overcome, which was not being afraid to take a shot to anywhere. It’s not an easy position. A lot of practices, I’m really hurt just because I’m getting hit, but over time you just get used to it.” 

Although Able never played goalkeeper, he’s played lacrosse since sixth grade. However, before playing lacrosse, he played baseball and football.  

“I was coming into it with pretty much no lacrosse experience, but i was in middle-school. That was a completely different level of play,” Able said. “To go from playing soccer your entire life to your junior year picking up a new sport, and playing at the level that he played, that’s just extremely impressive. I don’t know if I’ve seen anybody do it quite the same.” 

So, Able understood that in a sense, he was throwing Barghout to the wolves last season. However, something clicked for the boys lacrosse team last year. The team had one of the most successful seasons in school history with a 9-8 overall record and 7-7 in the Central Piedmont 4-A. It reached the NCHSAA Class 4-A playoffs and defeated Greensboro Grimsley 19-12 in the first round, but Lake Norman defeated West Forsyth 19-2 in the second round. 

“Just in playing lacrosse I’ve been hit with plenty of balls, and I can tell you for sure I would never willingly get in the net like that,” Able said. “It’s one thing to get hit with a shot when you’re playing in the field when you’re just trying to clock it or something, but to stand in the way, just get beat ball after ball after ball is…Y 

“Yeah, you need to be a little bit crazy special kind of person in order to play goalie.” 

The Titans lost many players after last season to graduation, so Barghout, Able and the rest of the team realized there would likely be some bumps in the road this season. That’s a far cry from the boys soccer team that Barghout’s on, finishing last fall 20-1-2 overall and 14-0 in the conference. 

“It was a pretty tough feeling because last season was probably our best in program history,” Barghout said. “We won our first playoff game ever last year, and this year has been a little bit of a struggle. So, it’s been a tough transition. There’s been a lot of ups and downs, a lot of learning moments, but this team this year no matter what our record has shown a lot of grit because we’ve had injuries, a lot of injuries, and we’ve had very young players come in without even picking up a stick. And every game we’ve gotten better.” 

Even with about a year and half of experience playing lacrosse Barghout has had to take more of a leadership role this season.  

“After last season, going from, we had 10 seniors on the team last year, and they all either started or played the whole game.” Able said. “And we relied very heavily on all the seniors.  

“And so, going into this year with Matt being one of three returning starters that we had he knew, it was understood that, and we’ve had this conversation multiple times this year as well, that where he’s going to be a big-time leader, not only just making saves and playing and playing good lacrosse, but in helping out the younger guys and helping building up a good team culture that we’ve tried to uphold.” 

Once spring break is over, West Forsyth boys lacrosse has three scheduled games next week – April 9 at Reagan in a conference game, April 11 at West Stokes in a nonconference game, and April 12 at home against Davie County in a conference game. It also only has six regular-season games remaining. So, Barghout’s time as a lacrosse and soccer player, as well as a student at West Forsyth is quickly coming to an end. 

“It’s tough because I fell in love with lacrosse, and I sometimes wish I played all four years,” Barghout said. “And now that my senior year is almost coming to an end, I think I’m more sad that this season is ending compared to soccer because I’m a lot more involved with this team. So, it’s definitely going to hurt, especially senior night.” 

After graduating in June, Barghout is planning on attending the University of North Carolina, ending his career in competitive athletics. However, he’s planning on playing club soccer and lacrosse there. But Able thinks he could play college lacrosse at some level. 

“He would have to put in a lot of work, still,” Able said. “He’d had have to learn even more because he’s still learning the game. But I think if that was goal of his he absolutely could (play in college). Put in the work this summer, reach out to some coaches, and make that happen.”