Life as a lacrosse goalie is not easy.
With negligible padding and little time before shooters hurl the ball in a hurry, sometimes your team's fate rests on your poise under pressure.
Now, imagine you're a sophomore - with little varsity experience - fighting for a starting spot at one of the nation's best high school programs.
That's the situation Andrew Clark and James Rodgers find themselves in for Malvern Prep, which won the coveted Inter-Ac Invitational championship last season.
"A lot to live up to," Clark said.
Friday against visiting La Salle, Clark and Rodgers held up their ends, sharing goaltender duties as the Friars (1-4) held off the Explorers, 11-8. The win was the Friars' first of the season.
Clark made three key, first-half saves while Rodgers stopped six in the second half. Both saw only junior varsity minutes last season.
"We came out more intense and more physical and we really wanted this win," Clark said. "Everyone was really excited from the moment we got out of school. The energy was a lot higher than the other games."
Led by two goals apiece from Adam Goldner (four goals total) and Mike Fay (three goals, assist), the Friars jumped to an early 6-0 advantage, buttressed by Clarks' trio of saves.
The result was a 7-2 lead at intermission.
"Once they put it in the net, I just go crazy," Clark said of his offense. "That boosts everyone's confidence, even the guys on the sidelines. It certainly boosts my confidence."
Rodgers, who played attack until eighth grade, took over in the second half. In the Friars' previous game, he started and Clark was the reliever.
As La Salle stormed back, Rodgers made a point-blank save with the Friars ahead, 10-6, in the middle of the fourth quarter. Goldner responded with a goal less than a minute later.
Cody Mazurek (four goals) and Zach Drake (three goals) supplied the offensive pressure for La Salle (1-1). Fortunately, for Clark and Rodgers, they are growing comfortable under fire.
"It definitely was [intimidating], but we had to get away from that," Rodgers said. "We know that it's a new season, a whole new team. We lost a lot of guys and we had to step up."
Rodgers made six saves; Clark had three.
Last year's goalie was Carson Cocco, who now plays at Quinnipiac. Before that, Matt Barrett, now a sophomore at Virginia, was in net.
Who will earn the spot this year?
"We'll see," Rodgers said, smiling.
The duo played club ball together before Rodgers enrolled at Malvern freshman year. Clark had been at the school since sixth grade.
"Once I found out he was coming, we became good friends," Clark said. "We always try to push each other to do better and support each other, no matter what."
Junior Sam Stroud did not play Friday, but is another goaltender for the Friars.
Would they be OK with continuing to platoon?
"Yeah, but you'd always love to start," Rodgers said.
Smiling, Clark responded, "It worked out pretty well today."
La Salle 0 2 2 4 - 8
Malvern Prep 3 4 2 2 - 11
LS: Zach Drake 2, Cody Mazurek 3, Brett Baskin 1, Austin Clibanoff 1, Kevin Lacon 1.
MP: Adam Goldner 4, Mike Fay 3, Zach White 1, Billy Coyle 1, Addison Mueller 1, A.J. Traynor 1.