MEN'S SOCCER: Comeback Proves Luthy's Worth In Net
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
All his life, senior goalkeeper Justin Luthy has been the starting goalie. During his time spent training with clubs in Europe, his time playing with the Columbus Crew Academy team, and now his time as goalkeeper for the Boston College men’s soccer team during the last four seasons, Luthy has always been the No. 1 keeper for any team he has played on.
And then, less than halfway through his senior season, he was benched.
In fairness, his play during the start of the season leading up to his subsequent benching that lasted for a game and a half was less than stellar, especially given that he is BC’s all-time leader in wins and in minutes played. Just six games into the season, the Eagles were suffering from a losing record of 2-3-1, and Luthy had given up eight goals. Prior to the Eagles’ contest against the University of San Francisco on Sept. 22, Luthy was told for the first time in his four seasons that he would not be starting.
“At first I felt like, you know, everyone goes through slumps,” Luthy explained, “and for me, I felt like I’d proved my ability over the last three years and that it wasn’t fair to lose faith in me.”
Whether or not the coaching staff had truly “lost faith” in Luthy is not known, nor is it entirely relevant—Luthy was simply not producing the results he had been during previous seasons. Due to that, the Eagles were losing games, and something had to change.
In fact, Luthy’s problem wasn’t that the coaches had lost faith in him. Luthy’s problem was that he had lost faith in himself.
“Goalkeeping is mostly confidence, and when you make a decision, you got to be confident that it’s going to work,” Luthy said. “We had a stretch of games where we’d given up some cheap goals, and you just start thinking, ‘Maybe I’ve lost it, maybe I don’t have it anymore,’ whatever ‘it’ is.’”
Thus, Luthy’s problem was not a lack of or a change in his ability. It was far from that. Rather, Luthy’s mental game was simply not the same at the start of the season, and for that he blames no one except for himself.
During his first game on the bench, the Eagles beat the University of San Francisco Dons 2-1 in double overtime. Freshman keeper Alex Kapp started in place of Luthy during that contest.
In the Eagles’ next game, in which they played the University of Rhode Island, Kapp started again. Although he had a shut out after the first 45 minutes of play, Luthy entered the game during the second half. The Eagles ended up winning that game by score of 4-2, improving their record to 4-3-1.
Then, after the Eagles’ next contest against N.C. State, Luthy got the start and let up only one goal in the Eagles’ 2-1 victory. At that point, it was clear: Luthy was back, and with their record of 5-3-1, so were the rest of the Eagles.
All of a sudden, everything was clicking again for Luthy.
“I just needed to light a fire under myself a bit. I got complacent,” he said. “At first, I felt like it wasn’t fair that I had to prove myself all over again. Even if it wasn’t the right or wrong thing to do, it worked.”
If a fire needing to be lit under Luthy was his problem at the start of the season, then being benched for a game and a half did just that and more. Since coming off the bench, Luthy has recorded four wins, only one loss, and three ties. Furthermore, Luthy has recorded five shutouts in his last six games, with the only loss in that time period being a 1-0 defeat to Brown University, the No. 18 team in the nation.
Despite his and the Eagles’ obvious return to form, Luthy will by no means let himself take full credit for the team’s recent turnaround.
“It’s not only making saves, but you’ve got your four defenders in front of you … and they’ve played incredibly well,” Luthy said. “We got back Nick Corliss who’s a big time defender. Him and Chris [Ager] really stepped it up.”
Now that Luthy has put his slow start behind him, and seeing how successful BC has been in the latter half of the season, the question remains as to how the Eagles can use this newly acquired momentum to carry them through the postseason tournaments.