By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
Austin, Texas, is not cool. The record high temperature in that city, established in 2000 and matched in 2011, bubbled the mercury at 112 degrees.
Austin Goodwin is cool. He’s got the hair of a rock star, and prior to every game the eye black is smeared down his cheeks in a way
that makes him look like a Scottish warrior from the 13th century. Yet he doesn’t charge onto the field like a madman. He strolls out to his position with the gait of a man walking down to the corner store to pick up the Sunday paper and a cup of coffee. When tempers flared following Absegami’s tough loss to Oakcrest on Wednesday in the Braves’ final game of the season, Goodwin wasn’t in the middle of the fray. He was standing near the sideline, relaxed, looking like he was more interested in what might be for dinner.
So, naturally, when asked what it felt like to eclipse the 100-career goals mark, Goodwin’s reaction was, “It’s cool.”
Becoming the all-time leading scorer in Absegami High School boys lacrosse history hasn’t been easy for the 18-year-old Galloway Township resident. He’s had to fight through a concussion and a torn ACL during his four-year varsity career and saw his junior season cut short halfway through due to that ACL tear. But each time he came back strong, and finished his career with a school-record 103 goals and a single-season record of 46, which he tallied this season.
“He always has every teammate’s back. He’s a great player and we all have great chemistry with him. He works well with everyone,” said senior teammate Darren Sewell, an 18-year-old Egg Harbor City resident. “It took a lot of bravery (to come back from injury). I remember when he was in therapy, he was in a lot of pain but he just fought through it.”
Goodwin, a senior a few weeks away from graduating who also was a diver for the Absegami swim team, said he didn’t know anything about lacrosse as a youngster, but it didn’t take long to figure out he had a talent for it.
“My dad scouted out a lacrosse program that was only for fifth- and sixth-graders, but the coach was really cool. He said, ‘hey, I’ll take a third-grader.’ He was all about the growth of lacrosse. I didn’t know anything (about lacrosse). I actually saw a picture in a newspaper and I was like, ‘I wanna do that!’”
Goodwin said he started to realize in eighth grade that he had a knack for scoring, but wasn’t sure if his success would carry over to the high school level.
“I didn’t know what to expect in high school. My eighth-grade year I had a lot of goals, but then again, that was eighth grade. I wasn’t sure if I was going to plateau in eighth grade,” Goodwin said.
A former resident of Egg Harbor Township, Goodwin also had to integrate himself into a new school and a whole new lacrosse program when he started at Absegami High School.
“I lived in Egg Harbor Township before I came to ’Gami and when I came here I didn’t really know anybody. I didn’t know how we would mesh together,” Goodwin said. “But over these four years we’ve grown. We have telekenisis sometimes. I’ve grown to love the program and I hope it keeps growing. I had so much fun.”
Sewell said the impression that Goodwin, who plans to continue his lacrosse career at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pa., this fall, leaves on Absegami lacrosse is a lasting one.
“He’s had a big impact. A lot of people look up to him, the JV attackmen specifically. They are like, ‘Wow, I want to play Austin’s position and get that many goals.’ He’s a big idol,” Sewell said. “I can’t say a negative thing about him. It’s fun to have him on the team and as a friend.”
Goodwin looks the part of teen idol with his long hair and wide smile, and admitted that sometimes he even draws comparisons to a group of former teen idols, among other – perhaps more well-known – icons.
“I either get Tarzan, Jesus, or one of the Hanson brothers,” Goodwin said with a laugh.
“He’s a very positive kid, always upbeat,” said Braves coach Scott Winneberger. “He’s an absolute gentleman. Everybody likes him. That’s the off-field side. He’s just a good kid.”
Winneberger said Goodwin actually started his high school career as a defenseman, but the coach recognized quickly that Goodwin could be the kind of playmaker the Braves needed in the middle of the field.
“We recognized that he had the ability to play that crease very well and we worked with him quite a bit,” Winneberger said. “A lot of guys work very hard to get that ball down there, and then we feed him. We’ve scored a lot of goals that way.”
Winneberger said reaching 100 goals is a solid achievement for a boys lacrosse player at the high school level.
“It’s pretty tough. They make a big thing of it in the paper every time somebody gets 100 goals,” Winneberger said. “We have a lot
of good kids who score. I’ve been told by other coaches that we’re a nightmare to scout because we have so many people that score.”
Goodwin knew coming into Wednesday’s game, the last one of the season for the Braves, that he needed one more goal to reach 100. He didn’t take long to score it, putting one between the pipes with just more than a minute gone by in an eventual loss to visiting Oakcrest.
“It was a huge weight off my shoulders. I said when I came out, ‘one shot, one goal,’” Goodwin said. “I didn’t want it to be the Austin Goodwin show. I wanted to win. I would have rather won and not scored my 100th than scored my 100th and not won.”
“That was a lot of pressure,” Winneberger said. “It was good that he got to do it in the first five minutes of the game. That took a lot of pressure off of him.”
In typical Austin Goodwin fashion, he put being Absegami’s all-time scoring leader in perspective as he was walking off the field for the last time as a high school player.
“It makes me feel good, but I mean, records are made to be broken, so I can’t really hold onto it too hard. But I’m glad I can have it for the moment.”