Pierce Bassett is taking on a new role with the Charlotte Hounds this season – and a new challenge.
Bassett, in just his second year playing Major League Lacrosse, will be the starting goalkeeper this season for the Hounds, who open their 2015 season Sunday against the Rochester (N.Y.) Rattlers.
“It’s going to be different,” Bassett said. “Last year was my first year in the league, and I really set my goal to just learn because it’s a little different game in the MLL than it is in college.
“I wouldn’t say there’s pressure on me now. At the end of the day, I’ve just got to go out there and do my best.”
After starting the 2014 season as Charlotte’s No. 3 goalie, Bassett’s solid performances in goal gave the Hounds’ coaches and management the confidence to trade away veteran Adam Ghitelman during the off season.
“We really had to force Pierce into battle last year,” Charlotte coach Mike Cerino said. “But he had certainly shown well enough in his limited showings that it was time to give him a chance in the goal.”
Bassett – who began playing lacrosse as a sixth-grader in his hometown of Scottsdale, Ariz. – earned second-team All-American honors at Johns Hopkins in 2011, and was honorable mention All-American in 2012-2013.
In that three-year span, Bassett was one of the nation’s top goalkeepers, with a 7.38 goals-per-game average and a save percentage of 56.5 percent. But he went undrafted in the 2013 MLL collegiate draft, and was picked up by the Hounds in the league’s 2014 supplemental draft.
Bassett began the 2014 season on the depth chart behind Ghitelman and veteran Mike Gabel, but he quickly moved up to No. 2 after Gabel had a rocky first quarter in Charlotte’s season opener against the Ohio Machine. Bassett came into the game, and made 12 saves in a 15-8 loss.
Bassett went on to make six more appearances last season, with three starts. He would have played more had he not suffered a broken hand in mid-season and missed nearly six weeks of practice.
Still, Bassett finished his first MLL season with a 10.73 goals allowed per game average and a save percentage of 57 percent – numbers that put him at the top of the league’s goalkeepers who played in at least half of the games.
It’s those numbers that led the Hounds to trade Ghitelman – who is also an assistant coach on Harvard’s men’s lacrosse team – to the Boston Cannons, and put Bassett into the starting spot.
“Now we’re going to find out if Pierce is going to be able to hold up over the course of a long season,” Cerino said. “Certainly his preparation, his attitude, his professionalism are there, so he’s going to get that chance in goal for us.
“He’s doing all the things necessary to be successful, so we hope it translates into a big season for him.”