Comments Drake Porter’s stickwork was off. He angled himself poorly in net. His clearing ability, the trait Syracuse head coach John Desko would later deem a differentiator for goalies, was a bit behind. Yet, Edge Lacrosse, a club team program in Toronto which cut Porter seven summers ago, formulated a plan to keep him.Alan Tsang, Edge’s program director, offered Porter a training spot on the roster. He viewed Porter as a “project” who couldn’t start in his first season. Tsang recognized Porter’s talent, so, instead, Porter led Edge’s secondary squad. In his third campaign, Porter ascended to the starting role. Potential equated to expectation, and the lesson in patience worked. In 2019, Syracuse is hoping it works again.This past fall, after sitting for two years, Porter’s status as starting goalie was “temporary,” Desko said. Months of first-team reps did nothing to separate the junior from the pack. On Jan. 9, Desko wouldn’t name a clear front-runner. If Porter’s quick hands and ball-stopping ability carried him to SU, his intensity did, too. In high school, he talked to himself during games, asking “What are you doing?” to no apparent answer. He’d yell “Let’s go!” in big moments and scream at his teammates in others. To become the third starting goalie in three years for the No. 10 Orange, he needed to find the balance between both. Desko’s comments didn’t change the plan. The same one set in motion when Porter was 4 years old. The same one that’s supposed to end with Porter standing in the net for SU’s first faceoff.“I don’t want to build it up too much in my head,” Porter said. “I’m doing what I do. I love playing lacrosse every day. The difference is, I get to play on Saturdays now.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder text,Porter started the process at age four when he followed his brother, Chris, to practices. At Markham Thunder Peanut Lacrosse, based out of a Toronto suburb, he indoctrinated himself while surprising his dad, Dave, who had picked up a stick just twice before his sons started playing. Friday nights were soon spent at Toronto Rock’s, a National Lacrosse League team, home games.While in a United States hotel for Chris’ travel hockey team, Porter flicked on ESPNU and saw a regular season Syracuse matchup. Porter was glued. He searched YouTube videos of then-SU goalkeeper John Galloway — the last Syracuse goalkeeper to win a national title — and mimicked his play.Porter and Chris exchanged tips through text as Porter fed into his new passion, eventually identifying Edge Lacrosse as the next step in his development. It didn’t matter that Edge held practices an hour away.“You’re either gonna like having balls shot at your head or not,” Dave said. “Strangely, (Porter) seemed to really like it. He took it from there.”While growing up, Porter played a variety of sports including hockey and football. His emotions flowed through each team and practice. Porter said he carried the same mindset through every game: The next one will be the best. At times, it fueled him to play better, but for some, his intensity hindered progress.Individual sports hurt the most, and the isolation of a golf tee box brought the same pressure as a goalie net. Porter said he’d smack the pipes or his own head in response to letting in goals. It seemed, Dave said, that Porter usually snapped out of it 24 hours following the contest. Though, it eventually returned when Porter played on “weaker teams,” Dave said — or ones that led to Porter facing more doorstep shots.Coaches wanted Porter to channel his competitiveness. It appealed to some, like Tsang, who identified it in the Edge tryouts. Coaches wanted Porter to recognize “tomorrow was another day.” But tomorrow led to the next game. Losing the provincial championship in his junior year of high school, after “riding an emotional high,” triggered a phone call with his brother.“There was a turning point where I realized we were losing the game and that sort of just,” Porter said recently before pausing, “it really dragged me down.”,Porter focused on his breathing to calm down. In lieu of screaming at his defense for missed assignments, he emphasized proactive communication. He developed relationships with the instructors that helped him the most, like Greg Reid, the varsity coach at St. Andrews (Ontario) College. Reid even cut Porter from a recreation-league team years earlier when Porter was “overconfident” and slacked through tryouts. But Reid specifically demanded personal growth as Porter’s recruiting profile grew, with no exceptions. Porter soon drew offers from elite high school programs in the U.S. and Canada.He wanted to stay in Canada, but Dave was told that D-I colleges preferred U.S. goalies. Porter eventually transferred to IMG Academy (Florida) for his senior year.Through Edge Lacrosse, Major League Lacrosse veteran Dillon Ward connected with Porter for summer sessions and became Porter’s first goalie mentor. He taught Porter what YouTube videos couldn’t, starting with the importance of angles. Before Porter walked onto Syracuse’s campus for his freshman year, he traveled to Orangeville, Ontario, Ward’s hometown, and studied goalie techniques on the field that Ward grew up playing on near Tony Rose Memorial Sports Centre.Porter entered the fall as one of four goalies on the SU roster, yet he didn’t redshirt because he competed to be then-starter Evan Molloy’s backup. He appeared in one game his freshman season — tallying two saves against Cornell on April 11, 2017 — and impressed another backup, leading eventual-starter Dom Madonna to turn to a teammate and say, “Wow, this kid really does step it up in big games.”Madonna had noticed Porter’s talent in practice, when the latter was on scout teams. He also realized Porter’s persistent fire that sparked in fall ball and caused Porter to text Ward for advice. But Madonna reached out to Porter. He said he went through similar struggles in high school. The two confided in between drills, sometimes offering a pat on the shoulder after a string of tough shots. Throughout last season, with Porter listed as the backup, Madonna emphasized communication with the backline.Porter’s focus turned to 2019 as the prior season ended and Madonna graduated. After the fall, Desko called Porter into his office. Porter still wasn’t told he’d be the starter. He wouldn’t hear that until six days before SU’s season-opener against Colgate. But, Desko said, Porter had done enough to keep his post atop the Orange’s depth chart. As he walked outside, Porter called his brother and celebrated before quickly remembering the unfulfilled goal. For just a moment, Porter saw the bigger picture. And the plan seemed to be working. Cover photo by TJ Shaw | Staff Photographer Published on February 8, 2019 at 9:59 am Contact Nick: [email protected] | @nick_a_alvarez,Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.