By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the second season in a row, sophomore Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.) is among the top goalies in the nation, serving as a security blanket for his team's defense.
"Goalies are like the quarterback of the defense in lacrosse," said Kaut. "As a goalie it's my responsibility to communicate with the defense and make sure everyone is in their spot."
Starting in the
net for the second-straight year, Kaut is continuing to exhibit spectacular
play that earned him CAA Rookie of the Year honors as a freshman.
In his impressive rookie campaign, the net minder topped several NCAA statistical lists, including save percentage (.635) and saves per game (13.64).
"Austin is one of the best goalies in the country, and it's great to work with him," said teammate and fellow goalie Conor Baucum (Chevy Chase, Md.).
Baucum, a junior, has seen limited in-game action in the net, and has found other ways to help out his team.
"I've become kind of a 'rah-rah' guy on the sidelines," said Baucum. "This is what I can do to help the team and if it keeps up the enthusiasm, then we can play better as a result."
Sparking intensity and motivation is not the only method of contribution for Baucum. He and fellow goalie Dave Baker (Havertown, Pa.) help on the offensive side of the ball when they stay back at practice and tend the net while the offense practices their shooting and accuracy.
"We have a really tight-knit pack of goalies on this team, and that's how it should be," said Baucum. He explained how the three goalies share tips and strategies to help each other improve.
As for Kaut, the presence of the other goalies on the roster helps him stay sharp.
"Having them nipping at my toes at practice to get my spot keeps me going," said Kaut. "It prompts me to work hard on and off the field to become the best goalie I can be."
Kaut has seen the majority of the action in the goal this season, and his put up impressive numbers against challenging opponents and skilled offenses.
The goalie ranks in the top 10 in the nation in goals against average and save percentage, which is an impressive feat considering the competition he has faced.
The Nittany Lions have faced eight ranked opponents this season, and of those teams, Kaut has tended the net against four teams in the top-ten in scoring offense.
In a loss to No. 16 Bucknell, Kaut allowed nine goals, which is significantly less than the astounding 13.33 goals per game average scored by the Bison.
The sophomore still has a difficult test ahead, as the team will face four-straight conference opponents to round out the season.
"We are ready for our upcoming games," said Kaut. "We have our work cut out for us because we need to get some wins and get a nice spot in the CAA tournament."
The Penn State men's lacrosse team will face Drexel in Philadelphia on Saturday. Faceoff is slated for 2 p.m.