Doss coming into his own as goalie for Irish
Manuel De Jesus | Wednesday, April 15, 2015
In Glen Ridge, New Jersey, about 40 minutes away from Manhattan, New York, Shane Doss grew up figuring out whether lacrosse was, in the long run, worth the effort and time he had spent on it. There’s no doubt in Doss’s mind now that being dragged to his Sunday league games by his mom as a seven-year-old boy was worth his time.
Doss, a sophomore, is the starting goalie for the Irish, who are 8-1 this season and 3-0 in the ACC. No. 1 Notre Dame is looking to return to the NCAA Championship where they were a couple goals shy of winning their first title last season. Coming into this year, Doss wasn’t sure if he was going to start at goalie given competition from Conor Kelly, the senior goalie who carried the team’s defense to the title game last year, and freshman Owen Molloy, the third-best goalie in his recruiting class.
Last season, Doss played a key role in Notre Dame’s championship run despite being a backup. He played nine games, garnering a 5-3 record and allowing an average of 8.53 goals per game. This season, Doss has played like an elite goalie. He ranks No. 25 in the nation in saves per game, averaging 10.11 while helping Notre Dame’s defense reach No. 12 in the nation in goals allowed per game with 8.22. He’s come onto the scene almost out of nowhere, giving Notre Dame another chance to legitimately contend for their first national championship.
As a kid, however, Doss wasn’t very fond of the idea of having to play lacrosse. In fact, he said he used to hate it.
“I am so thankful to my mom for [taking me to play in the Sunday league] because, even though I hated it at the time, lacrosse has become such a huge part of my life, and that’s mostly because of her,” Doss said. “She also encouraged me to try out goalie and convinced me that I could be good at it, and that also was a huge turning point for me early on.”
Doss went on to become one of the best players in New Jersey as he took his talents over to Glen Ridge High School. As a sophomore and junior, Doss attended the Nike Blue Chip Camp, which allowed him to showcase his skills in front of several NCAA Division I programs. In 2011, he helped lead Glen Ridge to a state championship. Along with the state title, Doss earned All-America honors as a senior from U.S. Lacrosse, earned team MVP and defensive MVP during his senior year and was rated the nation’s 10th-best goalie by Inside Lacrosse.
After receiving several offers as a senior, Doss weighed his options knowing that Notre Dame was in the lead.
“I wanted to attend the best possible school that lacrosse gave me the opportunity to do, so Notre Dame was an easy choice,” Doss said. “The alumni network is so huge and really gives you a lot of options no matter what you want to end up doing in life.”
He carried over the success he had in high school over to Notre Dame with ease. In his first season, Notre Dame made it to the national championship. For Doss, it was something he had always dreamed to be a part of.
“Making it to the Final Four last year is definitely going to be a memory I’ll keep forever,” Doss said. “I used to go to every Final Four growing up with my family so being able to run out on the field last season was pretty surreal, along with having all of my family and friends there watching.”
While the end of that experience failed to go his way, Doss understands that this season is a chance to return to that moment and claim the national championship. This season, Doss has faced some of the toughest competition in the country.
His first test was against Denver early in the season when the Pioneers were ranked No. 4. Although the Irish fell 11-10 in overtime, Doss took the experience as a learning moment and made the necessary adjustments to improve in the cage. From that point on, Doss has led Notre Dame to three wins over top-10 opponents.
The Irish defeated No. 8 Virginia 11-9 on March 14, No. 6 Duke 15-10 on April 4 and, in the most exciting win of the season, a 13-12 double-overtime victory over then-No. 1 Syracuse on March 28. Along the way, Doss earned ACC Defensive Player of the Week twice.
There isn’t anything special Doss does to prepare for his games, he said — just whatever keeps him focused. Whether that means listening to music throughout the day or hanging out in the locker room, Doss stays calm before warming up for a game. And up to this point, it’s been working out pretty well for him.
With one game left in the regular season against No. 2 North Carolina, top-ranked Notre Dame’s mission is going to be challenged in the ACC Championship tournament and in the NCAA tournament. Doss knows the Irish have a target on their backs, but it doesn’t bother him, he said. He just has one goal in mind heading into the postseason.
“I came here to win our first National Championship,” Doss said, “and I want to contribute in whatever way possible to make that a reality for my teammates.”