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06/01/2022 12:00 AM

Stopkoski Leads the Huskies as a Keeper

Marin Stopkoski recently finished her second season as the starting goalkeeper for the Morgan girls’ lacrosse team. She also led the squad as a junior captain. Photo courtesy of Marin Stopkoski

Taking on the role of a goaltender in lacrosse is never an easy feat, especially with the thought of a ball being flung at your body multiple times during a game running through your mind. However, the challenge of tending the net is something that Marin Stopkoski embraces as she competes for the Morgan girls’ lacrosse team.

Marin’s decision to play lacrosse was an easy one. However, building the courage to step into the goal took a little time. Nevertheless, Marin recently completed her junior season playing goalie and serving as a captain for a young Huskies’ club that learned a lot on the fly this spring.

Marin started playing lacrosse in 3rd grade, following in the footsteps of her older sister Maddie. Marin began her athletic career as a soccer player, but wanted to make the switch and stick with lacrosse, because she saw how much the sport meant to her sister.

With a few years of experience in lacrosse, Marin began playing goalie when she was in 7th grade. Marin’s father encouraged her to try a playing new position, one that featured completely different responsibilities, and she hasn’t looked back since.

“I always stuck to lacrosse, because I knew I had the capability to play,” says Marin. “I’ve been like the only goalie in the Clinton lacrosse league, so I knew that coming into high school, I’d get playing time.”

Marin was excited to be Morgan’s goalie heading into her junior season this spring. She had missed out on her freshman season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but introduced herself to the Huskies as a sophomore last year and came away from the campaign having earned All-Shoreline Conference Honorable Mention.

Morgan was loaded with multiple All-State players last season, but after losing those people to graduation, Marin knew that her junior year would be different. While the group in front of her had much less experience, Marin went out of her way to be vocal and advocate for them. Regardless of the results, Marin enjoyed creating chemistry with her new teammates as they laced up the cleats and competed.

“Going into it, I knew that we weren’t going to get as far as we last year, because last year we lost a lot of experienced players,” Marin says. “But encouraging [the newer players] and letting them know that they’ve really done good and did what they’re supposed to do is important.”

Although Morgan only won three games this year, Marin felt proud of how the Huskies played while preserving through the struggles. Head Coach Bill Lindsay echoes that sentiment. Coach Lindsay felt that Morgan performed better than the numbers on the scoreboard and was highly impressed with Marin’s performance as both a keeper and a leader.

“Marin is constructive and tries to help the defenders be better in our team defense. And she helps the younger attacking players understand what defenses and goalkeepers are trying to do, so that they can be more successful,” says Lindsay. “Off the field, Marin grew into the captain role this season and became more vocal and a bigger part of team huddles.”

While only controlling the goal and her surroundings, Marin still played a big role for the Huskies in her second season with the team. The junior captain’s communication, advice, and guidance to her defenders pushed the play forward and elevated the performance of those in front of her. Marin’s teammates benefit from her presence in goal and know that they can always rely on her in high-pressure situations.

“I think I work best under pressure. Some of my best games were against the top teams. Knowing that I have to work under pressure and that I have to do my job makes me best,” Marin says. “With my team, especially the defense, communication is really key. Being open to them and helping them with the things I see on the field is really important.”

As she looks toward her senior season, Marin is hoping to see more new people join the program. Marin loves it when inexperienced players take a step out of their comfort zone and give lacrosse a shot.

“The best part is seeing the new players become part of our team. I’ve been playing lacrosse for so long, and there’s like a core group of girls in my class that have been playing, but getting into high school, the numbers are dwindling,” says Marin. “So, seeing the newcomers, the freshmen, or even some girls who have started senior year—it’s really cool seeing the girls try something new. I hope to get more girls playing, because we are losing a lot.”

With Marin returning as a leader in goal, the Morgan girls’ lacrosse team will be in a better position for success next season. The experience that everyone gained while going through the ups and downs this year will undoubtedly benefit the Huskies. Marin wants to continue being a stable force when she returns to the net for Morgan as a senior.

“What motivates me is doing it for other people. Nobody volunteers to be the goalie. I was the only one they really had,” Marin says. “It’s rewarding to be hearing from my peers I’m doing a good job and, specifically, doing my job of saving the goals.”