FARMINGTON – James Schryver embraces direct attacks in net, as very few actually sneak past him.
The Farmington senior goalkeeper’s 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame is a giant roadblock. With a wide, sturdy base, he can easily stop the ball in its tracks and knock it away. And any side-to-side movements entering the box eventually become problematic because he’s worked more on his lateral quickness to get that extra swiping save in.
Eventually, opposing shooters relent from charging toward the box and opt to set up scoring chances elsewhere.
“It does feel empowering to be able to stuff someone’s shot from two feet away, and they have the whole goal wide open. It feels empowering to slap that ball away, pick it up, retrieve it and get it off of his foot,” said Schryver, who’s entering his third year starting in net. “I’m a pretty big dude, so I oftentimes come into challenges super hard. If you go in soft on a 50-50 (chance), you’re going to get your head taken off.”
Schryver said he’s noticed opposing shooters get flustered over the last year trying to score on him point-blank, forcing them to re-evaluate how to attack the net.
“I’m already one step ahead of them in that sense,” Schryver said. “I’m just very fluid, and I always stay checked in. So, I’m able to make that save.”
Schryver is constantly on alert while in net, keeping his hands and eyes up, ready to rock at all times.
“Even if I think they’re going to take a shot, I set my feet. If they’re going across (the) goal, I’ll set my feet, shuffle over, set my feet again,” Schryver said.
Schryver made 131 total saves, roughly 70 percent of them off point-blank tries, over 22 matches as a junior in 2017. Schryver logged nine shutout victories for Farmington.
"Definitely a little bit of an intimidation factor when you come at him from point-blank range," coach Byron Farnsworth said. "He kind of shoulders it. He likes guys coming in close. He enjoys that close encounter, having that ability to kind of strike the fear of God into people."
Schryver said he keeps fine-tuning his body control leading up to and during shot attempts.
“I used to go out there blindly sprinting at (shots), with my arms open, not even trying to control anything. But now, I’m able to control my body where I’m actually big. Whenever I need to make that movement, I’m able to make those quick reactions,” Schryver said.
And Schryver doesn’t just impose his presence strictly within the box.
He’s also become increasingly vocal coordinating with teammates on what’s transpiring out on that back end of the pitch.
Following its season opener against Colorado’s Pagosa Springs High next Thursday at Hutchison Stadium, Farmington will face a familiar foe two days after known for its direct attacks in St. Pius.
That type of matchup is where Schryver’s at his best, so he’s ready.
“I plan to raise hell in this state," Schryver said. "I plan to give (opponents) as much as grief as I can this season."
Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.