OSSINING, N.Y. Grace Lombardi volunteered once before when the Ossining High girls lacrosse team was in need of a goalie. It was only natural the senior would step forward once again.
When Ossining starter Christine Kopera missed the season with an injury a couple of years back, Lombardi filled in.
"When I was a sophomore, our two goalies got hurt so I volunteered to do it," Lombardi said. "I had a week of practice before one of our goalies returned. This time, when Christine got hurt, I told coach I would do it. I thought coach figured I would volunteer, and I got the feeling he was kind of happy and relieved."
Lombardi, the starting goalie on Ossining's Section 1, Class A finalist field hockey team last November, has made the transition from field player to goalie and has helped the Pride to go 7-6 to date.
"Grace is a great kid who stepped up for us when we needed a goalie, and she has become a very good goalie," coach Dan Ricci said. "Grace is throwback kid who put the team in front of herself."
Lombardi played attack last year and was a defender in her sophomore year. Playing goalie in field hockey helped Lombardi make the transition in lacrosse. However, one major adjustment was becoming accustomed to shots in the air, not on the ground.
"From a mental aspect, being a field hockey goalie helped a lot," said Lombardi, who will attend Oswego next fall and play field hockey. "Transitioning to goalie, at first, was tough because I had to think upside down. I almost had to black out being a field hockey goalie."
Lombardi has received a big assist from her classmate Kopera, who is an unofficial goalie coach.
"Christine has been a big help," Lombardi said. "She is always giving me pointers. During games, at halftime, she's helping me. She is like having an extra set of eyes." After the first three games, Lombardi settled in and is enjoying the position.
"Anything that involves me being on a team and helping out our team make my high school days," she said.
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