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Lievois embracing the pressure of being Brother Rice's goalie WITH PHOTO GALLERY

  • Brother Rice goalie Chris Lievois locks in on the shot by Catholic Central's Sean Stanners in the Warriors 15-9 over the Shamrocks on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 (Special to The Oakland Press/Chris Wall)
  • Senior goalie Chris Lievois crosses midfield in the Brother Rice 15-9 victory over Catholic Central on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 (Special to The Oakland Press/CHRIS WALL)
  • Brother Rice senior goalie Chris Lievois looks to pass late in the Warriors 15-9 win over Catholic Central on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 (Special to The Oakland Press/CHRIS WALL)
  • Brother Rice goalie Chris Lievois looks for the clearing pass in the Warriors 15-9 win over Catholic Central on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 (Special to The Oakland Press/CHRIS WALL)

BIRMINGHAM – There are plenty of thankless jobs out there in the world, especially in the sports world.

Imagine being expected to achieve perfection every season, with anything less being a disappointment.

That is the level of pressure that comes with being the goalie for the Birmingham Brother Rice lacrosse team.

“Do you want to be the quarterback of the Lions?” Brother Rice coach Ajay Chawla said when asked about the difficulties of being the goalie for Brother Rice lacrosse. “It is a tough position.”

Despite the pressures, senior Chris Lievois embraces the role and is finding a way to meet the lofty expectations that come with being the Rice goalie.

“Year-in and year-out we seem to get tough kids to fill that role and Chris has been waiting in the wings a couple of years. He has really taken on the position well, Chawla said.”

Playing goalie for any lacrosse team is challenging enough. Your role is to place yourself in the line of fire of a solid rubber ball with limited padding. A strong goalie still gives up his fair share of goals each game, so striving for perfection is an endless journey.

“You have to be a little nuts and a little bit off your rocker,” Lievois said of being a lacrosse goalie. “You have to have a passion for it and be into your role 100 percent. You have to believe you are the best goalie in the world and you are going to stop every shot.”

Lievois was hoping to be in his second full season of being Brother Rice’s goalie, but his junior season was derailed when he suffered an injury that forced him to the sidelines. Lievois broke the fifth metacarpal on his right hand when he was attempting to stop a shot in practice. He then had to trade in his stick for a cast for most of the 2013 season.

“The first couple of weeks were rough, but he was able to be at practice every day and help the team wherever possible, which helped him still feel part of the team,” Lievois’ father, who is also named Chris, said. “Once it sunk in that he couldn’t rush the process and his sight was set on getting back for the playoffs, he focused on that and handled the season pretty well.”

Lievois was able to return in time for the postseason and he had a nine-save performance in the Division 1 state championship game against Forest Hills Northern.

“Chris has handled the goalie position very well. He really enjoys the position and the challenge of being the last line of defense,” Lievois’ father said. “The team always has been very supportive of all the goalies. The kids all understand what it is like to stand front of the kind of shots they see at the varsity level and I believe they respect anyone who willingly plays the position, even if they might think it’s a little crazy.”

A real benefit for Lievois is that he faces some of the top scorers in the entire state each day in practice, which prepares him well for games. Just last season, the Warriors had four All-Americans.

“I am definitely lucky to be able to face some really good goal scorers in practice,” Lievois said. “It helps me prepare a lot for the games. I see all kinds of shots at different speeds in practice. When you see those kinds of shots every day, you are prepared for anything when it comes time for a game.”

Lievois and the Brother Rice defense are off to a good showing thus far in 2014, holding seven opponents to their lowest goal total this season. This past Tuesday, Lievois recorded 22 saves as Brother Rice defeated rival Novi Detroit Catholic Central, 15-9.

“He is an intense guy. He tends to take it upon himself to be hard on himself. Most goalies are like that,” Chawla said of Lievois. “You have to be a different creature to be a goalie, but he is a good one and he is going to win games for us down the stretch.”

Chris’ passion for the goalie position has carried over to his siblings. His brother Teddy, a freshman, is also a goalie in the Brother Rice program while his sister Hannah, a junior, is playing goalie for the Birmingham Marian lacrosse team.

“The goalie needs to be able to put the last shot behind them and get their head back in the game very quickly,” Chris’ father said. “The game moves at a rapid pace and the next shot could come in less than a minute. All my kids have been able to embrace that part of the game.”

Two weeks ago, Brother Rice suffered its first in-state loss in nearly 12 years when it lost to Birmingham Detroit Country Day, 8-7 in overtime. The eight goals ties the fewest the Yellowjackets have scored this season, but the loss is what sticks out the most for Lievois. Following the end of the streak, Lievois and the Warriors have found a new motivation for the rest of the season.

“The last week was really intense and I think we had a huge chip on our shoulder,” Lievois said. “We had gotten complacent before (the Country Day) game and I think that loss gave us our fire back. We just need to sustain that throughout the season.”

The Warriors have won every MHSAA Division 1 state title since the sport began in 2005. Lievois wants to cap his Brother Rice career as the winning goalie of a 10th straight championship.

“The expectations are huge, but living up to those expectations feels amazing,” Lievois said. “All of that hard work that goes into the offseason and goes into the time after practice, that really helps me play into the role I have on this team and meeting the expectations we have for this season.”

Top 10 Rankings

1. Birmingham Detroit Country Day (9-1) – The Yellowjackets built off their win over Brother Rice by beating the defending D2 state champs, Cranbrook Kingswood, 21-14.

2. Birmingham Brother Rice (7-2) – The Warriors bounced back well from the loss to the Yellowjackets by picking up a convincing 15-9 win over Catholic Central this week.

3. Novi Detroit Catholic Central (5-1) – The Shamrocks suffered their first loss this week, but they still showed signs of what they can be. Will they put it all together in time for the postseason?

4. Clarkston (6-1) – Since losing the opener to Catholic Central, Clarkston has been on a roll and getting better each week. The Wolves picked up a solid win over Birmingham Unified on Tuesday.

5. Birmingham Unified (5-2) – The Bulldogs have only lost to Clarkston and Brother Rice this season. They have a balanced offensive attack that will make them a real threat in the Division 1 playoffs.

6. Cranbrook Kingswood (5-5) – Injuries and a rough schedule have the Cranes at .500, but the talent is still there. Cranbrook has one of the best offenses in the state and when the Cranes heal up, they will be challenging Country Day for the top spot in Division 2.

7. South Lyon (5-1) – South Lyon has been off this week but faces some of its toughest opponents to date this season in the next week.

8. Troy (5-3) – Don’t look now, but the Colts are looking to be a real contender in the OAA Red. After a loaded schedule to start the season, Troy is rolling right now behind its talented scorers.

9. Troy Athens (5-1) – The Redhawks picked up a 15-8 win over Bloomfield Hills this week, but have a tough set of OAA Red games coming up next week against Birmingham Unified and Clarkston.

10. Rochester Adams (7-2) – The Highlanders have won six straight and look to be the top team in the OAA White, but that could change next week when it faces Oxford.

Last Updated: 4/25/2014 4:07:43 PM EST


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