Watson receives All-America honors

By on May 23, 2012

By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor bmorgan.eph@lnpnews.com, Staff Writer

Photo by Cathy Chapis
Warwick senior goalkeeper Jake Watson finished with a 67.3 save percentage this spring, second in the L-L League only to Ephrata's Brian Neff, while becoming the first player in the history of the Warriors' lacrosse program to earn All-America honors.

Jake Watson gave the Warwick boys lacrosse coaches an early glimpse of his abilities when he was still just in eighth grade.

With the Warriors playing in an off-season winter league in Palmyra, they found themselves short a goalkeeper on one particular Saturday.

Watson received a telephone call and the rest is history.

"We knew we had something special in Jake in his eighth-grade year," Warwick skipper Chris Schmehl said. "He did pretty well. He held his own, so we knew he was going to be good in the near future."

It’s safe to say that Watson fulfilled that potential. The senior keeper, who helped lead the Warwick boys to the District Three Triple-A playoffs this spring, was recently named a U.S. Lacrosse All-American. He earns the distinction of becoming the first player in the Warriors’ program history to win that honor.

"Every game that he was in goal, he gave us a chance to win," Schmehl said.

Watson was nominated for the All-American recognition by Schmehl, and then a committee of 10 coaches — two from each of five leagues in District Three — conducted the voting. Twelve total players from the Central PA area were selected, with Ephrata keeper Brian Neff and Penn Manor long pole Alex Cummins from the L-L also being named All-American.

Watson, a recruit of Division-I Florida Institute of Technology, finished the 2012 season with 167 saves, while allowing 81 goals in 18 games, and his 67.3 save percentage was second in the L-L League behind only Neff’s 69.0 save percentage. Neff was named First-Team All-League and Watson took home Second-Team All-League honors.

"They’re the two best goalies in the whole District, and they’re in the same league," Schmehl said.

Obviously, then, it was a big blow to the Warwick boys when Watson suffered a season-ending knee injury just a week or two before the 2011 season got underway. A Second-Team All-League selection as a sophomore, he was voted in pre-season as a junior captain.

"Definitely there were some adjustments the team had to make," Schmehl said, "because they knew Jake as a sophomore was a Second-Team All-League so we had expected that coming back. Then for him to get hurt the week or two weeks before the season was supposed to start, it was kind of a letdown for everybody. But the defense knew they had to step up a little bit and the offense had to score a couple extra goals last year."

Watson was the latest in a line of solid keepers who played in goal, with Dakota Maurer (currently playing at Chestnut Hill College), Bryan Fund and Evan Scheffey playing the position before him.

"We’ve had a pretty good run," Schmehl said.

Schmehl credits Watson’s athletic ability, hand-eye coordination and quickness as being some of his biggest strengths.

(Jake) is fearless in the goal," Schmehl said. "He’s not afraid to leave the goal crease if he has to. He’s gone up the field many times for us and taken it the whole way to the other end. He got a couple of assists this year. The one he had in the District game was a long pass to a wide open guy, but in other games, he’s run the whole way up the field."

The toughness he displayed while doing that is another one of his assets.

"He can go anywhere on the field that he wants," Schmehl said. "Some goalies don’t ever leave their crease. He played football back in the day, that’s how he got his first knee injury. He’s tough and he’s willing to do anything that he needs to do to help the team."

It comes as no surprise then that the team’s confidence became infectious with Watson between the pipes.

"We knew we were going to be in every game as long as he was playing," Schmehl said. "That’s something that gives the rest of the team a lot of confidence. His true athletic ability (was an asset), how quickly he was able to come back from the knee injury and get back to the same way he was even before the injury." More WATSON, page B-4

About lititzrecord