Sophomore goalkeeper adjusts to new way of life on pitch
Change. In today’s world, many people fear that six letter word. But to men’s soccer goalkeeper Anthony Reichwaldt change is the word that he lives by. Its those split-second decisions that make Reichwaldt who he is today.
“I like change,” he said. “I don’t like to be set on one thing at a time. I change constantly. My room is one way one day, then I move the bed and the dresser. I’m a sporadic person I guess.”
It’s that sporadic, fearless attitude that first attracted head coach Manny Schellschiedt to recruit Reichwaldt when he was visiting his long time best friend Joe Baker during Baker’s freshman year.
“He was very aggressive for a goalkeeper,” Schellscheidt said. “A goalkeeper has a lot to do with courage. You can’t have a meat guy in the goal because it’s a very tough and nasty guy, diving at people’s feet you have to have some guts and Anthony proved that.”
Despite the interest from Seton Hall, Reichwaldt decided to stay in Nebraska and attended Concordia University. After a “rough” 4-14 season and an honorable mention for the Great Plains Athletic Conference, Reichwaldt made the most sporadic move of his life.
While at a job fair in his hometown of Lincoln, Neb, he joined the army reserves without consulting his family or friends, including Baker.
“I was completely taken aback,” Baker said on Reichwaldt’s split-second decision. “It was a decision on the whim. He didn’t talk to me at all before it. He was like ‘oh, by the way, I’m joining in the army.”
After completing basic training and a one year stint in Afghanistan guarding the gates of Kandahar Airfield, Reichwaldt returned to South Orange to visit Baker, who was now in his junior season.
Following a meeting with Schellscheidt where the coach “told him he was coming here,” Reichwaldt found himself back in his comfort zone but with a lot of work to do.
“Physically I didn’t think I was big or strong enough to come here but then the whole military (sic), obviously we lift and workout a lot made me stronger,” Reichwaldt said. “Coming out here and playing with the guys during the summer made me a better player. It’s a big difference but being athletic really helps out.”
Facing stiff competition against three other talented goalies, Reichwaldt won the starting keeper spot out of training camp.
“There’s four goalies, so there was definitely some competition in goal,” Reichwaldt said. “To come out and start, my family was really proud, so were my friends. It was a good time.”
However, despite starting the season 2-1-1, Reichwaldt was diagnosed with a concussion following the Pirates 3-1 win over St. Peter’s.
While being sidelined, Reichwaldt’s personality was still felt by the players on the field.
“He’s brought a lot of vocal leadership,” Baker said. “His experience in Afghanistan made him a leader. Even though it’s his first year here, he’s definitely been a vocal leader, we’ve definitely used his guidance and direction.”
No one felt his leadership more than freshman walk-on Mario DeClerico. When Reichwaldt was sidelined, it was DeClerico who received the nod to start the Hall’s match versus No. 1 Maryland.
“Coming from his background, he’s a real leader,” DeClerico said. “He’s someone I really look up to. He helped me out by calming my nerves and everything. He told me not to be nervous and just play my game.”
DeClerico played the game of his career, earning a 0-0 tie to the Terrapins and the starting job until Reichwaldt was healthy enough to return.
However, more change was to come for Reichwaldt. Although being cleared to participate in team activities, Reichwaldt still couldn’t play keeper.
“They didn’t want me diving right away,” he said. “I was joking around with coach, saying ‘do you mind if I retire my gloves and play the field’ and he was like ‘I was thinking the same thing.'”
After practicing with the forwards for a couple of days, Reichwaldt found himself on the field for the first time in his soccer career.
In his second game against Princeton, Reichwaldt tallied his first career goal.
Schellscheidt credits his team-first mentality for his success on the field.
“He just wants to help this team in any possible way,” Schellscheidt said. “His attitude is one of the biggest things. He has only one thing on his mind ‘how can help this team get better I make this team better.'”
It was only a few games later that Reichwaldt returned to the net, a place that he still has a lot of work to do.
“He’s still catching up, there’s no question,” Schellscheidt said. “He’s the same Anthony, but personally he’s more mature, that’s what the war can do to you. These are impressions that you take with you and form who you are. He’s a dedicated guy, he trains hard.”
Baker doesn’t see Reichwaldt’s learning curve as a problem for his future. In fact, Baker believes his positive attitude and work ethic will help him.
“I don’t think people realize how much he works,” Baker said. “He jokes around a lot, but his work rate is second to none.”
So what’s the next big change for Reichwaldt? It’s the million dollar question that no one, not even Reichwaldt himself, can answer.
Tim LeCras can be reached at email@example.com.