THE GRIND: Sibling rivalries helped Lambert’s Morgan Berman become Division I lacrosse goalie
Morgan Berman’s two brothers wouldn’t show much competitive fire when they’d practice lacrosse after school and on weekends growing up, but she would.
There was friendly smack talk, of course, in their sarcastic style.
“Like, ‘Oh yeah, nice save,’” Berman said. “But it wasn’t; I missed it.”
But if Berman sensed the goals were adding up, the Lambert senior goalie couldn’t help but get agitated.
“I’d get a little angry,” she said.
That’s fine by Berman now.
“They pushed me to work harder,” she said.
With that work, Berman turned in to a Division I goalie and a captain for the Longhorns, one they are counting on to help make a late season push for the program’s second state playoff appearance in three seasons. Berman signed to play for Virginia Tech this past fall and is coming off an all-state season in which she saved 53 percent of shots against her.
Except for a game or two, Berman grew up playing a field position. Attack, middie, defense – it didn’t really matter. At first, she just wanted to play the sport like her older brother, Brady, now a freshman defender at Mercer. She took to it naturally enough, and by the seventh grade she put basketball aside to focus on lacrosse.
One voluntary fall tournament her freshman season reminded Berman of her love for the position. Lambert’s team needed a goal keeper. The coach asked Berman to give it a try, and she obliged.
It went well enough Berman decided to make a permanent switch.
“I always thought it was cool,” Berman said, “because my brothers played boys lacrosse, and I kind of wanted something that was like boys lacrosse. Goalie was the most like it.”
Berman benefited from her field position background. She had comfortable stick skills with both hands, and she had a dose of fearlessness.
“Some people are scared of the ball,” Berman said. “Supposedly it hurts sometimes, so they just kind of get scared of it. You’re got to go all-in or else you’re not going to save it, and that’s not for a lot of people. A lot of people want to score goals.”
Berman also already had the necessary work ethic. Her dad grew up in Maryland, one of the hot-beds of lacrosse in the US. He had introduced Brady, Morgan and younger brother Carson to the sport. They would go to Lambert three days a week and on weekends to practice.
So Morgan simply moved from the field in to goal, taking on her dad and brothers for hours. One of her dad’s friends was a lacrosse goalie in college, and he provided important instruction too.
“That helped a lot,” Berman said.
Berman caught on fast. The summer after her freshman season, John Sung, then the head women’s lacrosse coach at Winthrop, saw her play at a club tournament and made contact through Berman’s club coach. He offered her a scholarship soon after, and Berman eventually committed.
Sung later became head at Virginia Tech and asked Berman to join him there. Berman relished the chance; she had joined a friend on a road trip to visit the school and was impressed.
“What a coincidence,” Berman said.
Berman’s future is set, but plenty is at stake at present, so she keeps up her extra practice with dad and Carson. Lambert needs her leadership now more than ever. The Longhorns are 7-5 overall, 2-2 in Area 5-6/7A and in contention for one of the final two state playoff spots with four area games remaining, including against Alpharetta last night in a game that ended too late for this edition.
Berman sees her role as captain is to “try to keep the defense hyped up.” They will allow goals, and Berman says she feels responsible for every single one.
That used to bother Berman, like all those ones by dad and Brady used to.
But not anymore.
“You have to tune those out,” Berman said. “… I try to focus on the next goal. I’ll say, ‘Oh, that one went in; what can I do on the next one to save it?’”