Dan Wigrizer is working with three position coaches in as many seasons, so the Duke goalie understands there are plenty of avenues to success.
In the fall, the Blue Devils’ latest goalie guide told Wigrizer and the rest of the goalies to throw their sticks aside. The coach then started to toss shots at Wigrizer’s feet, leaving an instinctual kick save as the lone way to save a goal.
“Multiple times this year, it’s come to help me out,” Wigrizer said. “That’s a drill I never even heard of before.”
Unsurprisingly, Duke volunteer assistant John Galloway knows of what he speaks.
The former Syracuse goalie, just more than a year removed from the end of his college career, and Wigrizer have formed an important partnership for the third-seeded Blue Devils (15-4) entering their NCAA tournament semifinal meeting with Maryland (11-5) on Saturday.
The pair have collected a combined three national titles in the past four years, with Galloway helping Syracuse to championships in 2008 and 2009 and Wigrizer collecting one the following year. It was instantly clear what sort of impact Galloway’s hiring could have on Duke.
“I thought ‘If this happens, it’s going to be huge for my season, it’s going to be huge for my career and it’s going to be huge for the team in general,’ ” Wigrizer said.
He gave up 10 goals in his first five games as a freshman and briefly lost his starting job before reclaiming it in the final four. He improved last season but still yielded double-digit goals in six of seven contests late in the regular season.
“He was thrown into being the starting goalie as a freshman when that was not the plan,” Duke coach John Danowski said. “No one thought that was the plan when Danny arrived on campus. After a while, everything slows down a little bit. Everything becomes a little bit easier, hopefully.”
The addition of Galloway helped, offering a voice plenty familiar with the tension of guarding a six foot-by-six foot goal.
Perhaps Wigrizer’s greatest weakness was in the clearing game, a facet Galloway excelled at. But Wigrizer also is a more relaxed player, and the junior known for being a bit jumpy now reclines by his locker before a game.
“I think we’re just on the same wavelength,” Galloway said. “I think I understand the stresses he has to go through, and I’ve been there before. When we talk about things, we’re on the same level. I think that makes the conversation much easier for us.”
It wasn’t a perfect regular season for Wigrizer. He missed three games with a concussion, rushed back and gave up seven goals against one save in a loss to Loyola and then missed the next two games.