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During crucial moments late in games when Rumson-Fair Haven’s defense needed to come up with a clutch stop, finding confidence was as easy as looking between the pipes and seeing No. 50 ready for whatever was coming his way.

Rumson senior goalie Ryan Croddick was the last line of defense for a Bulldogs team that didn’t usually need to be bailed out. But when they did, or when nothing less than a defensive stop would do, Croddick stood tall. He helped lead Rumson to a 20-1 record, the Class B North division title, the program’s seventh Shore Conference Tournament title, its fifth NJSIAA state sectional title, the most wins in New Jersey, the No. 1 ranking in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, and the No. 5 ranking in the State Top 20.

He finished the season with 119 saves and a 64% save percentage (a SV% of over 60 is considered very good). To top it off, he is the 2021 Shore Sports Network Boys Lacrosse Specialist of the Year.

Ryan Croddick 2021 SSN Boys Lacrosse Specialist of the Year

“When you looked at him in any of those types of moments – sometimes you see goalies jumping up and down trying to get ready or psych themselves up; he just stands there,” said Rumson head coach Marc Moreau. “He is so composed in those situations and he doesn’t overreact. He’ll make that save the same way he’s made 100 other saves this year. Nothing changes for him in that situation and that’s why I think he’s the best goalie in the state, hands down.”

Rumson’s stingy defense meant Croddick wasn’t being bombarded with shots and in many games where the Bulldogs overwhelmed their opponents, Croddick needed to make just a handful of saves. He shined in the big moments, starting with an 11-save performance in a statement-making, season-opening 9-4 victory over Chatham that started Rumson’s rise from unranked in the state to top-10 stalwart. He made 10 saves in another state-ranked win over St. Augustine during the first week of the season, and in Rumson’s South Group 2 sectional final win, 8-7 over Wall, Croddick made 12 saves as the Bulldogs held a one-goal lead through the final six minutes.

“He gives confidence to the guys in front of him that they can take chances and play a little more aggressive because 9 times out of 10 he’s going to bail them out,” Moreau said.

I’ve been playing with Croddick my whole life and he’s always shown up in (big) games,” said Rumson senior defenseman Jack Joyce following the Bulldogs’ sectional final victory over Wall. “Just being able to always rely on him; we know he can bail us out if we need him to because he’s done it countless times. Croddick comes up big.”

Croddick’s impact goes beyond the statistics and box score, as well. He was also a standout for Rumson’s ice hockey team – which was also ranked in the top 10 in New Jersey – but did so as a goal-scoring forward. His stick skills, passing ability and athleticism allowed Rumson to add some wrinkles to its clears and rides.

“Having an athletic goalie with field sense really allowed us to play a 10-man ride in virtually every single game,” Moreau said. “You need a goalie who understands what’s in front of him outside of that crease and also has to be able to pick up a loose ball and sometimes dodge a player before he can move the ball. Because his stick skills are exceptional we were able to do that.”

So good, in fact, that Croddick could have played anywhere on the field. And almost did.

“In 2020 we were talking about creating a play where he would grab a short stick and join the man-up because he’s that good of a shooter. This year we probably had eight guys who could play man-up so we didn’t have to do that, but he really could have done anything. If we needed Ryan to pick up a pole he could have played defense, he could have run midfield, he could have played attack. All of that is what makes him such a good goalie.”

Croddick appeared in five games as a freshman and then split time as a sophomore, although he did end up seeing the lion’s share of action during the 2019 season. It was shaping up for him to have a breakout junior season, but then COVID-19 happened and forced the cancelation of the 2020 spring season. Because of the lost season there was a bit of mystery surrounding almost every player coming into 2021, but Croddick quickly showed he was ready to be ‘the guy’ in goal for RFH.

“I’m really proud of his development and the maturity he showed this year,” Moreau said. “He played a little bit as a freshman, split time as a sophomore and would have been the full-time goalie last year, and he never got that opportunity to get that experience going into his senior year. But he came in this year and didn’t miss a beat. He matured on and off the field, his body language improved, and he became more of a leader. He’s not going to be jumping up and being the rah-rah guy, but he’s supremely confident and I think his teammates fed off that.”

The next stop for Croddick is the Hun School in Princeton for a postgrad year before he heads to The University of Richmond, where he has verbally committed to play collegiately. Rumson has a storied history when it comes to goalies and Croddick is the latest to earn All-Shore status and the distinction as one of New Jersey’s top goalies. He elevated the standard at the position for those who will follow.

“I think it would be unfair to make Ryan the standard for what every Rumson goalie needs to be able to do, but I think a lot of what he does should be the standard: how he carries himself, the confidence he plays with, and the maturity he has shown,” Moreau said. “To me, that’s the hardest position in lacrosse to play for many reasons. You can’t be all over the place emotionally and you have to be even-keeled.”

“He set a great example. It’s tough to see him go, for sure.”

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