Colin Kirst Common Denominator in Cannons Three Game Win Streak
Release. Relax. Refocus.
Those are the three words Colin Kirst repeats to himself after every shot he sees, save or not. As a professional lacrosse goalie, Kirst is cognizant of the fact that having a balanced mind is non-negotiable. After all, it’s the only position on the field where your mistakes are counted on the scoreboard.
Tonight, Kirst will make his fourth consecutive start and the fifth of his career for the Cannons against the Redwoods. Aside from Asher Nolting’s ascension and the Cannons playing the best team offense in the league, Kirst has been another common denominator in the Cannons three game win streak. Since he debuted as the starter in week three against Chrome, the Cannons have given up the second fewest scores against (31) in the PLL.
The former Rutgers and Lehigh standout has recorded double digit saves in each of his three starts. When you include his time spent in net in the fourth quarter of the Cannons opener against the Archers, Kirst has saved 55% of the 70+ shots he’s faced this season. He played well enough in three starts to be named to his first career All-Star game. All of this on the heels of a rookie campaign in which he only saw the field once for extended game action.
One area of the game that Kirst has excelled in to this point is limiting second-chance opportunities. Out of the thirteen goalies that have seen game action this season, Kirst has recorded the second highest clean save percentage (36%). In other words, the second-best ratio of clean saves to total saves, with the other category of “messy saves” being those that lead to rebound chances.
Limiting messy saves is important, not only to better prevent the other team from scoring, but also to help generate transition offense going the other way.
Kirst came into this season more prepared after taking advantage of his first full offseason as a pro. Having one of his childhood idols as a teammate hasn’t hurt, either. When Kirst was a teenager, Adam Ghitelman was his screen saver. Now, Kirst and Ghitelman are roommates every game weekend.
“It’s honestly been a dream come true. He’s someone that I looked up to all throughout middle school. I remember watching his Final Four, a bunch of Virginia games, and his communication really stood out to me,” Kirst detailed after the Cannons week five win over Chrome.
“I wanted to model my game after him. So coming into training camp, when we first acquired him, my eyes lit up. It’s been awesome to learn from him.”
More credit is due to Coach Holman and the Cannons coaching staff for actively seeking out the battle-hardened Ghitelman as a mentor for the eager young net-minder. Holman, a former three-time All-American goalie himself at Johns Hopkins, has helped Kirst develop and maintain a “steady headspace” regardless of the situation.
That’s another part about Kirst’s game that’s been noteworthy so far. He hasn’t just made saves, he’s made timely ones in critical moments. In his season debut against Chrome, eight of Kirst’s 12 saves came when the game was tied or within a goal; the most important of which came in the final ninety seconds when Kirst denied Justin Anderson’s great look at the potential equalizer.
The next week against Atlas, Kirst made seven of his eleven saves in the second half while holding the Bulls to just five goals in each half. Last time out in the rematch with Chrome, Kirst and the Cannons defense put forth their best defensive effort of the season – limiting Chrome to just six points.
Kirst made eleven saves en route to stifling any semblance of a Chrome comeback after the Cannons went up four early. Even with the game well in control for the Cannons late in the fourth quarter, Kirst made one of the more impressive saves of his young career.
Watch him track this ball through a scrum and still be able to make a point blank save against Logan Wisnauskas.
Tonight, Kirst will be presented with a new challenge in the form of the Redwoods and their uber-talented offense. It also sets up another volume in the Kirst brothers lacrosse saga; the first edition of Colin vs Cole in the professional ranks. The two former teammates at Seton Hall Prep and Lehigh will be playing against each other for the first time since Colin’s 17 saves propelled Rutgers and the Scarlet Knights over Cole and Lehigh in the first round of the 2021 NCAA tournament.
There are currently three Kirst brothers playing in the PLL with a fourth on the way. The fifth and youngest Kirst brother, Caden, is going into his senior year of high school. Caden’s committed to Rutgers to play goalie – just like Colin and their dad, Kyle.
Whenever Caden has gotten overly critical of his own play, Colin has been there to remind him: Release. Relax. Refocus. Since taking over the starting role in net, Colin has looked nothing but relaxed and dialed in. Tonight, he has the chance to help the Cannons do something they’ve never done before in the PLL: win four games in a season.