With the amount of athleticism Ayden White possesses, there’s hardly a spot on the goal that the junior can’t get to.
Place a low-dipping shot to either side of the net, and he’ll drop down to parry it in a flash. Send one toward an upper corner of the goal, and he’ll use his 6-foot-1 frame to leap and tap it over the crossbar.
With a love for saves made with flair, it all comes with the territory for the Eau Claire North goalkeeper.
“I like the diving, flashy saves,” White said. “It’s easier for a smaller guy, but I think they look just as nice for me.”
White is in his second year as the starting goalkeeper for the Huskies. He posted a 1.44 goals allowed per game average as a sophomore, and he’s made 31 saves through six games so far this season.
His tall frame and leaping ability make him a threat to grab any ball sent into the box, and he’s not hesitant to throw himself after anything he has a shot at getting to — a valuable trait to have in a keeper.
“What he brings is athleticism and fearlessness,” North coach Terry Albrecht said. “The other things he’s getting better at are leadership, communication, communicating in the right way on the field ... making good, constructive comments to his teammates what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. That’s part of the development of defense.”
That fearlessness showed in Thursday’s game with Eau Claire Memorial. White threw himself in front of a first-half shot blasted from point-blank range by Memorial’s Mitch Brenner, taking it off the chest and recovering to keep the game scoreless at that point.
Whatever it takes to make the save.
White has always had good shot-stopping ability, but he feels he’s made strides in other areas to make him a more well-rounded keeper.
“My problem was that I wasn’t good on my feet. I was a good shot-stopper, but this year I think I’ve gotten a lot better on my feet. I’ve worked on a lot more technique stuff.”
Being better on his feet has made him more comfortable playing in a sweeper keeper role if the need to do so arises. It’s a style of goalkeeping that involves the keeper venturing out from outside the penalty area to deal with balls more often than a traditional goalie would.
It can be a risky role to assume if the keeper is hesitant, making White’s fearlessness crucial in that regard.
“He’s able to get to balls that he probably shouldn’t be able to,” Albrecht said.
Sweeper keeper was a role White has seen Memorial goalie Tyler Hanson employ, and the North net-minder is a fan of it.
North lost Thursday’s game to Memorial 3-1, but the Huskies played well and feel they can turn things around from a 1-5-0 start to the season. Having a confident goalkeeper can only help in that endeavor.
“We’re on the rise. Nobody’s ready for us yet. We’ve got this,” White said.
As he’s had more time in the starting keeper role, White has only grown more assured of himself, to the point where he’s comfortable in all areas of his game.
“It went from me hardly being able to throw out the ball, to me being able to punt the ball three-quarters of the way across the field. And I’m more comfortable diving,” he said.
That’s good news for him. As White’s comfort level with diving rises, so do his chances of utilizing his flair in net. And that’s just the way he likes it.
“A diving, flashy save where you push it over the crossbar? There’s nothing better,” he said.