Goalie is ‘quarterback of the defense’ for Providence Day
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Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014

Goalie is ‘quarterback of the defense’ for Providence Day

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/21/15/34/1qli4o.Em.138.jpeg|360
    - PROVIDENCE DAY
    Providence Day senior goalkeeper Mitch Renfrow was named all-state last season. He is signed to play at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/21/15/34/GEg7v.Em.138.jpeg|246
    - COURTESY OF PROVIDENCE DAY
    Providence Day senior Mitch Renfrow had 239 saves last season for the Chargers, helping the team reach the NCISAA state title match.
  • Five boys’ lacrosse players to watch

    •  Carson Song, Charlotte Latin, Jr. – Midfield. All-state midfielder scored 42 goals with 60 assists last year for two-time defending state champion Hawks.

    •  Clifton Mathis, Charlotte Latin, Jr. – Defender. Another talented junior returns to Latin after earning all-conference honors last season.

    •  Ryan Beltrondo, Charlotte Catholic, Sr. – Defense. All-state defender had 84 groundballs and 75 takeaways for Cougars.

    •  Jake Priester, Charlotte Catholic, Jr. – Midfield. All-region and honorable mention all-state selection is also a Mercer (Ga.) commit.

    •  Jake Chandler, Providence Day, Sr. – Defense. All-NCISAA pick, who will play at Bryant College (R.I.) next year, is part of experienced Providence Day defense.

It takes a certain kind of player to be a lacrosse goalkeeper.

Providence Day senior Mitch Renfrow is one of them, a player whose job is to throw his body in front of the hard, rubber balls fired at high speeds by opposing players.

“You’ve got to be crazy. You’ve got to be different,” Renfrow said. “You can’t be afraid of anything. … You’ve got to be relentless in how you take pain and stuff like that.

“Some days, depending on who’s shooting, I can come home with bruises up and down my body. But it’s fun; I wouldn’t want anything else.”

Renfrow, 18, had 239 saves last year and earned All-South Charlotte News, All-Observer and all-state honors. In November, he signed to play at the U.S. Air Force Academy. This season, he will be a key part of an experienced Charger defense that hopes to help the team return to the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association state championship game.

Last season ended in a 9-8 loss to conference rival Charlotte Latin in the title game. The Chargers, which won its only championship in 2007 and has made the state final match three times since, beat Latin 15-8 in the teams’ second regular season matchup.

“Coming into this season I have a goal for beating Latin,” Renfrow said. “It kind of left a bitter taste in my mouth, so I’m ready to get back out there and beat them.”

Renfrow and the veteran defensive unit will be key to the Chargers’ chances of beating Latin and returning to a state championship match. Providence Day didn’t lose any players from the back line, bringing back seniors Jake Chandler (Bryant commit), Hayes Donahue, Lawson Ives, Blake Henderson and Brad Curl.

The group will have to compensate for an offense that graduated five of six starters in the attack and midfield.

Renfrow, who stands 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, will be the one who coordinates the defense on the field. That’s a skill Providence Day coach Bobby Thompson said Renfrow has improved on significantly since freshman year.

“There’s a lot more to playing goalie then stopping the ball,” Thompson said. “It’s like the quarterback of the defense, and he has grown into that the last three years and has done a phenomenal job with it.”

Renfrow, a Charlotte native who has gone to Providence Day since first grade, started playing lacrosse in second grade at the urging of a coach and teacher at the school, Jamie Schmidt. By fourth grade, he was regularly playing goalie and said the position appealed to him “because I heard that you didn’t really have to run a lot.”

Thompson remembers first coaching Renfrow on a summer team when he was in elementary school. He realized that Renfrow had a “knack” for the game.

Renfrow started playing for Providence Day in seventh grade and was the only goalie on the middle school team both years. He didn’t start as a freshman, playing behind all-state senior Jake Flynn. He moved into the starting role as a sophomore, where he’s stayed.

Thompson said Renfrow’s strength is simple: “He stops the ball really well.”

His ability to stop the ball caught the attention of Air Force.

“In the beginning, they kind of picked me,” Renfrow said about Air Force. A recruiter watched him play in a tournament in Colorado when he was a rising freshman and has been recruiting him since.

Though he hadn’t initially considered a military academy, Renfrow, who said he’s always had a “patriotic side,” decided Air Force is where he wanted to play.

“It’s a really big commitment because I’m not going to be doing what everyone else is doing in college,” he said. “I think I’m ready for that.”

Renfrow is also ready to lead the Chargers. Thompson said many outside the Providence Day locker room don’t have high expectations for the team, which has taken some pressure of the Chargers. He looks forward to seeing how far Renfrow can take the team.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have him, and I’m looking forward to one more year of having him leading our defense,” Thompson said.

Inscoe: 704-358-5923; Twitter: @CoreyInscoe

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