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Sports: Playing through the pain for the love of the game

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

The Waccamaw High girls lacrosse team gathered Logan Brown in their arms and carried her off the field after the final whistle in last week’s game with Bishop England, the top-ranked girls team in the state. It wasn’t an unusual sight at a game that ended 20-0, except that the Warriors and Brown, their goalkeeper, were on the short end of the score.

“I did not ask to be carried,” Brown said. “I was told I would be carried.”

The junior has played 130 minutes in goal after spraining her left ankle near the end of the first half of Waccamaw’s 19-7 win over Myrtle Beach. It was the fourth win of the season for the Warriors (4-6), who hadn’t won a game until this year. Through two losing seasons, it was Brown who was in the goal with a face mask, shin guards and a stick the size of a butterfly net that’s not much defense against balls that buzz past at the speed of angry bees. “I was the only one who volunteered,” she said.

There are other players who have volunteered to tend the goal, but so far none have been called. With 5 minutes left in the first half against the Seahawks, an attacker stepped on Brown’s left foot. “We both tumbled down,” she said. Her foot hurt, but the referees said she had to either stand up or leave the game. She stood up and played on.

Christine Keillor, the Waccamaw trainer, said if there had been a fracture, she would have pulled Brown, but with a sprain it was the player’s call. “I’ve had bad sprains before,” Brown said. She has kept it iced and tried to ignore the bruising. “It’s kind of black right now,” she said.

She learned her goalkeeping from Andrea Pecunes, now the head coach, and her husband Ben. Their son Dimitri is the goalie for the University of South Carolina lacrosse team. “I feel like I’m learning from the best,” Brown said. At 5-foot-3, she doesn’t fill the goal, but she keeps on the move to try to close off the angles of attack and block bounce shots. “I never take my eye off the ball. Ever,” she said.

Pecunes said Brown is unique among goalies at her level for coming after the ball even if it means going behind the cage. “She’ll even come downfield,” Pecunes said. “She doesn’t give up.”

The 20-0 loss to Bishop England and a 21-0 loss at Wando this week wouldn’t have been reversed if Brown had been in top form, but she believes she could have made some additional saves. She is able to brush off lopsided score lines. “I know I’m doing my best,” she said. “I try not to pay attention to the scoreboard.”

Even with an injured foot, her hustle against Wando impressed the coach. In fact, the loss to the Bishops was something of a high point for the program, Pecunes said. “They played at 120 percent,” she said. “I didn’t mind losing. That was the best I’ve seen them play.”

The Bishops were able to collect groundballs and complete passes that set up their scoring. Those are skills, along with shot placement, the Warriors are still honing. So solid goalkeeping is essential.

In Waccamaw’s first girls lacrosse win, 14-8 over Myrtle Beach, Brown recorded 24 saves. “I was incredibly happy with the win,” she said. “I love to win, but I think it’s exciting when I play really well.”

Brown averages 15 saves a game, about 67 percent of the shots on goal.

After walking onto the team with her friend Celie Anderson, who is an attacker, Brown now has thoughts of playing lacrosse in college. She plays on a club team outside the high school season, which will end today with a game at Carolina Forest. “I really do love the game,” Brown said.

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