By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 7/14/10
Springfield-Delco coach Mike Friel said it was much more than the statistics that indicate how valuable senior goalie Austin Kaut was to the Cougars’ success in 2010.
All Kaut did was post a save percentage of .710, make a whopping 263 saves and allow just over 4 goals a game. But it was his leadership and personality that made the man they call “Sparky” the key to the Cougars’ drive to their first Central League championship in five years and a berth in the District 1 finals.
“He was a two-year captain, and definitely the leader of the team,” said Friel of the Central League MVP and US Lacrosse All-American. “He was a great role model for the younger kids. Austin also had the highest grade point average on the team.
“He’s just a wonderful kid that I will miss because of his unbelievable personality.”
Kaut, the left-hander with his flying hair and uncanny ability to stop the hardest of shots from more than 8 yards out, was the catalyst for the team that went 20-3 and achieved a state ranking of No. 1 and a national ranking in the Top 10 for much of the year.
For his achievements, Kaut has been named the Male Co-Player of the Year by Phillylacrosse.com. He shares the honor with Lower Merion senior attackman Jordan Wolf.
The Cougars – with 12 seniors – had high expectations entering the 2010 season. The team returned a number of key senior starters that had played together for years and played key roles since they were sophomores.
But standings in their way was Conestoga, a team that went undefeated in the Central League in 2009 and reached the state finals. The Pioneers also returned a huge amount of Division I seniors and was being touted as the favorite to win the state crown since the final day of 2009.
Both squads were undefeated in the league when the teams met on April 20. Kaut had been brilliant in league competition coming in, but was even more clutch in that contest as he made 14 saves and helped the Cougars win, 4-3, in overtime.
Kaut then allowed just 11 goals in the final five Central League wins, nearly shutting out a tough Ridley team. Kaut helped Springfield-Delco win 17 straight games until they fell to Conestoga, 8-4, in the District 1 finals.
Kaut, a starter since late in his freshman year, said he had to credit his defense and great scouting reports for his success.
“Our coaches scouted a lot of games and they knew what the other team was going to do,” said Kaut, who will play at Penn State. “And our defense executed amazingly. If they happen to let someone by by, I would happen to be there. But they made my job so much easier.”
“We always thought if Austin could see the shot, we’d let guys take them from 10 or 12 yards away because we knew he’d catch it and get us back on offense,” said Friel. “He played unbelievably in the first Conestoga game and had Ridley shut out until a cheap goal at the end.
“At times we would go an entire practice and no one would score on him. He just had that ability to make those big saves.”
Kaut said the Cougars reached one of their three goals – the others were to win the district and state crowns.
“We fulfilled our first goal,” he said. “We made it to the district title game and came up short. Our team worked hard all season and as a group we really came together after the early loss to St. Anne’s Belfield (10-3 in the third game of the year).
“Being together so long was a huge factor. Pretty much our whole senior class has been together since 6th grade. We’ve played together through thick and thin, during the summer and during Fall Ball.
“Everyone is friends and we all knew our strengths and weaknesses and helped each other out.”