When most kids start playing soccer, they want the ball on their foot. They want to score goals.
Not Gary Geinitz
. He would rather be the one stopping shots from going in the net.
Geinitz started playing soccer at 6 and after a couple years as a defender, moved to goalie. He's been at that position ever since.
"I personally find the adrenaline rush really fun," said Geinitz about playing goalie. "Something about making a save really pushes the energy in me to keep going. It's a blast, especially kicking the ball downfield and then working to get better at extension diving and stuff like that."
The junior at Western Wayne (Lake Ariel, Pa.)
is coming off his strongest season yet for the Wildcats boys' soccer team.
Geinitz stopped 119-of-136 shots (.88 save percentage) on the season, allowing just under one goal per game. He led the Wildcats to a 13-4-1 mark with a pair of shutouts.
"There were times a felt bad for him a little bit because there were a few games that we were winning by a good amount — I don't like to run up the score or anything like that I like to get younger guys in the game if possible — a few times that third-string defense was out there and they had one-on-ones with the goalie," Western Wayne boys soccer coach Matt Fitzsimmons said. "If we kept our starters in there, he might have been even lower."
Geinitz was named a Lackawanna League All-Star, getting a first-team selection. But he was snubbed when it came to conference postseason awards.
"I was happy I got first team (for league) but a little letdown that I didn't all-conference, but it happens," Geinitz said.
What can you say, the kid has set high standards for himself.
After having a stint on the varsity team as a freshman as the back-up to a senior keeper, Geinitz stepped right into the starting role as a sophomore.
Fitzsimmons was looking forward to plugging in Geinitz into the lineup.
"It was one of those things that I was waiting for him a little bit because even though I had a pretty good goalie when (Geinitz) was a freshman, that kid was a natural athlete who loved that position as well," Fitzsimmons said. "But with Gary, this is one of those kids that this is what he wants to do and wants to do in the future possibly as well."
Geinitz, 17, feels like he made a big jump from his sophomore to junior seasons.
"I definitely got more comfortable with the feel," Geinitz said. "I was a lot more outgoing with my teammates and directing them. It was smoother for me. It was a smoother feel, and I was able to execute my dives better and my footwork got 100 percent better compared to last year. But I still need to work on it."
Fitzsimmons, who has a son in the same grade as Geinitz, has known the keeper for a long time. He's watched him mature as a goalie over the years.
"He's a student of the game and of the position," Fitzsimmons said. "He works very hard at it. I think his biggest jump this year was keeping, I don't want to say emotions in check, but like if a goal goes in that's OK — it's not the end of the world. He did a great job of that. He did a great job with maturity level from sophomore to junior. His instincts and everything just seemed to heighten this year."
Geinitz knows he can get better as a goalie, working on his footwork, diving skills and stopping penalty kicks. He surrendered just two penalty kick goals this season and stopped four. But Geinitz is a perfectionist, saving anything less than all the shots is a disappointment.
Set aside Geinitz's high critique of his own play, he is one of the top goalies in northeastern Pennsylvania.
"I think because he studies it and works so hard at it that he makes the routine saves look a little difficult, but he makes the difficult saves look routine," Fitzsimmons said. "He just has a knack of knowing where to be — where to cut an angle off. He does a really good job with that. He's athletic and all that plays into it."
Geinitz, who is also a sprinter on Western Wayne's track and field team, just got back into playing club soccer with Keystone FC after a one-year hiatus.
"I'm trying to get myself more noticed," Geinitz said. "I love playing soccer, so as long as I can keep on playing it is great for me."
The goal is for Geinitz to play in college. He would like to pursue a degree in aerospace engineering; he's always wanted to build and design aircrafts. A couple colleges Geinitz is interested include Penn State, the United States Naval Academy and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida.
Fitzsimmons believes with the right fit, Geinitz can play Division I soccer.
"He's got that knack that he pushes himself," Fitzsimmons said. "When Gary kind of wants something, he goes for it. He's definitely got that ability."
As well as being an exceptional athlete on the field, Geinitz doesn't miss a beat in the classroom. He has a grade point average of 98 out of 100 and has his entire five-course schedule this quarter is all Advanced Placement and honors.
"Academics is always first," Geinitz said.
At Western Wayne, Geinitz is a member of the National Honor Society and Future Business Leaders of America.
Another area that is important to Geinitz is volunteer. He figures he puts in about four hours per month. At school, Geinitz is an orientation guide for freshmen students at the start of each new school year.
Through Grace Episcopal Church in Honesdale, Geinitz takes part in various volunteer opportunities as well as being an altar boy. He's just starting to get involved with serving at the St. Francis of Assisi soup kitchen.
"It really just gives that feeling of completion where you can know that you helped out people that need it," Geinitz said.
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