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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Freshman goalie has Cape Henry boys lacrosse on the rise

Cape Henry's Parker Tanner-Vigil has been the rock to the Dolphins' defensive success. (Joe Saade/Southside Daily)
Cape Henry’s Parker Tanner-Vigil has been the rock to the Dolphins’ defensive success. (Joe Saade/Southside Daily)

VIRGINIA BEACH – Charlie Lonergan called up Parker Tanner-Vigil from the eighth grade to the varsity stage last spring for a quick stint during a mid-season game.

The Cape Henry boys lacrosse coach was curious to see how Tanner-Vigil, then the junior varsity’s starting goalie, would react to the elevated level of play.

Lonergan saw the kid was something special even before the game started. Tanner-Vigil’s swift movements and hyper-awareness in the cage during the team’s rigorous pre-game warm-ups immediately impressed the coach.

One year and 19 varsity starts later, the 15-year old Tanner-Vigil is the cornerstone of a defense that is anchoring a turnaround season for the Dolphins (14-5, 6-1 Tidewater Conference).

“Until you’re in the mix and seeing it for real, you never know how a kid’s going to respond, especially a ninth grader,” Lonergan said. “But he’s been steady and when the times get tough he asks for more.”

Lonergan said he wouldn’t expect so much from anyone so young.

“The way he carries himself, the guys buy into it,” the coach said. “He’s made everyone a lot more comfortable.”

Tanner-Vigil picked up the sport three years ago. A former baseball catcher, he translated his ball-stopping instincts to the turf field.

In February before the season began, Lonergan asked his players to rank teammates on a 1-to-5 scale for leadership.  Their 15-year old  goalie had yet to log a full varsity start, yet he finished 8th out of 25 teammates.

“Nobody really knew about him until the year started,” senior attack Ben Baumann said. “Now everyone has full confidence in him and we couldn’t believe in him more. He’s our rock.”

The goalie position by default requires a stable leader whose play and handling of responsibilities set the tone for the rest of the crew.

On the season, Tanner-Vigil has averaged nine saves per game and allowed six goals per game. Those numbers have improved dramatically in heightened Tidewater Conference play, where he has allowed just 2.8 goals per game.

“I enjoy the pressure,” Tanner-Vigil said. “It’s a good thing to go through, especially when you’re trying to win.”

Lonergan said his young goalie never makes excuses for himself, and his mental game “is way ahead of any 9th grader” he’s coached in the goalie spot.

“If I let a goal in I can’t let it get to me,” Tanner-Vigil said. “I have to just make the next save.”

In practice during shooting drills, whereas most goalies do their own thing, Tanner-Vigil doesn’t shy from standing in the cage while teammates rifle nearly 100-mph shots on net.

“It’s like target practice, guys just teeing off on you,” Lonergan said. “He has no issue doing that. When the guys see that, they’re like, ‘Wow, this kid is willing to do anything.'”

The Dolphins are on the cusp of a playoff run, when Tanner-Vigil’s position will be as valuable as ever. A streaking goalie can be the difference in games where the stakes are higher and margin for error is smaller.

The Dolphins have no doubt their freshman phenom will be ready.

“(Guys in front) don’t have to be perfect,” Lonergan said. “They got a guy more than capable behind them, and at any given moment he can make a save he has no business making. Most times he’ll make all the saves that he should. That’s all you can ask out of him.”

“We know he’s a huge competitor and that’ll he’ll step up in those games,” Baumann added. “We have our whole confidence in him. He’s our guy.”

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