PHOTO BY KEVIN P. TUCKER

Tim Troutner Jr., High Point's hidden gem, has stopped 81 shots in the Panthers' six games.

Tim Troutner Jr.: College Lacrosse's Most Under-appreciated Player?


Long before his recent heroic efforts helped High Point surge to a 4-0 start by denting the elite, Atlantic Coast Conference — first with a 13-9 stunner over then-No. 2 Duke, later a one-goal squeaker over ninth-ranked Virginia — Panthers senior goalie Tim Troutner Jr. was no longer a surprising commodity in the Division I world.

After beginning his college career as a fairly anonymous figure, in a program that had joined Division I in 2013 under current head coach Jon Torpey, Troutner needed little time to shine.

This lightly-recruited goalie, who didn’t sign with High Point until the end of his senior season at St. Mary’s High School in Annapolis, Md. in 2015, made his first career start early in his freshman season. That day in College Park, against a Terps team that eventually came within minutes of winning the NCAA title in 2016, Troutner announced his arrival loudly for the 0-2 Panthers.

Two days after Troutner had won an open tryout in practice, the former third-stringer stopped 16 Maryland shots. He lifted the Panthers to a surprising, 6-4 lead at halftime, before the Terps asserted their talent to grab a 15-10 victory.

Troutner came back strong three days later, in his second start at Virginia. His 15 saves were the difference in a 12-11 victory that marked the Panthers’ highest-profile victory to that point.

Three years later, here is Troutner, the Panthers’ co-captain, defensive quarterback and All-Southern Conference stopper, who has become one of the nation’s regular leaders in saves per game. He badly wants to reach the school’s first NCAA tournament since 2015.

Troutner also is arguably the main reason the Panthers (5-1) are off to their best start ever and have bruised the ACC in 2019.


“Timmy is insanely competitive. He’s also as cool as they come, like Teflon. He doesn’t change.” - Jon Torpey


“It is wild watching [Troutner] play,” says redshirt senior attackman Chris Young, who marvels at Troutner’s ability to cause turnovers outside the cage and bait shooters between the pipes before frustrating them.

“Tim has this calming presence,” Young adds. “He’s really good at leaving something open for a shooter then taking it away. That’s what he did at the end of the Virginia game. I’ve been on the bad end of that plenty in practice.”

“[Troutner] is finally getting the [national] recognition he deserves,” adds Nate Carter, High Point’s junior defensive midfielder. “There were parts of the Duke and Virginia games where our defense collapsed. But Tim faced a bunch of good shooters in those games and made saves standing on his head.”

On Feb. 6, the lanky, left-handed, 6-foot-1 Troutner tormented Duke with 19 saves, as High Point broke open a tight game in the fourth quarter to claim its highest-ranked victim ever.

Twelve days later — and just two days after a 15-14, overtime win at Drexel — Troutner closed out late-charging Virginia, 14-13, in the final seconds with his 17th save. He used his body to stop Matt Moore’s game-tying shot from point-blank range.








Through the month of February, Troutner did the things the Panthers have come to take for granted, ever since he won that tryout — started 12 games as a freshman and finished fifth in the country with 12.25 saves per contest and 14th nationally with a .555 save percentage.

Troutner continues to unnerve opposing shooters with the way he anticipates, reacts and uses those quick hands. He eats up outside shots, ignites High Point’s potent transition game and drives offenses crazy with his penchant for springing out of the goal to pick off skip passes.

“Timmy is insanely competitive. He’s also as cool as they come, like Teflon. He doesn’t change,” Torpey says. “When you first meet him, you wonder, does he really care? Then you come to realize that no one cares more.”

Consider that, as a sophomore, Troutner led the Panthers in ground balls (50) and caused turnovers (20), an unusual combination for a goalkeeper. Those types of stats continue to define his active brand of defense.

Troutner finished February by allowing 9.32 goals per game (17th in Division I) and making 13.2 saves per game (15th). His save percentage (.589) ranked 10th.

“Making one-on-one saves always fires up a goalie and can change a game’s momentum,” Troutner says. “But I love stepping out on the crease and being a seventh defender. We’re all trying to make plays out there. We call them fire starters.”

Troutner started his share of fires last year for the Panthers, who suffered through a 0-6 start against a typically stout non-conference schedule that included Duke, Maryland, Virginia and Georgetown. High Point then went to work in the SoCon by going 6-1 and gaining a share of a regular-season league title.

In 14 games, Troutner went 6-7, but lost just twice in eight conference contests, capped by his 22-save day in a 12-11 loss to Jacksonville in the SoCon tournament semifinals.

Troutner’s regular-season 6-1 SoCon record featured a goals-allowed average of just 7.3 goals. He was the league’s Defensive Player of the Month in April and made all-conference second team.

“I knew [Troutner] was under-recruited before I came here, but I’d seen him enough on TV to know he had a unique style — a lefty who was very confident, could do a lot out of the cage and doesn’t give up a lot of shooting angles,” says Justin Tuma, High Point’s first-year defensive coordinator.

“He has a way of recognizing things before they happen. His communication level with our defense is elite,” adds Tuma, who says Troutner commands the team’s respect with his icy-cool demeanor.

“Tim is a positive and fun-loving guy. He’s not temperamental but he’s also not a pushover. The guys know he’s the smartest one in the room and arguably our best player, besides being a captain. When he starts talking, they all listen.”

Troutner has played lacrosse since he was in pre-school and says he first handled a goalie stick in first grade, before committing totally to the position as a fifth- or sixth-grader.

“I was willing to do it right away — kind of crazy in the head, I guess,” Troutner recalls. “I always enjoyed playing goalie. I loved running down the field with the ball, trying to score. I was an average goalie for a long time. I loved it enough to keep putting in the work.”

There is obviously no question Troutner improved enough to land eventually at the game’s highest amateur level.

But the question is how did he slip through the recruiting cracks long enough to be unsigned until the end of his high school playing days? How is it that Torpey was the only coach to make Troutner the Division I offer he craved?




PHOTO BY KEVIN P. TUCKER

Troutner has held opponents to a 10.10 goals-against average this season.


Hours after St. Mary’s had beaten St. Paul’s in the MIAA tournament semifinals, 9-5, largely due to his 16-save dominance, Troutner got a call from Torpey, who had recruited him since his junior year. Troutner, who later made nine saves to help the Saints beat McDonogh for the MIAA crown, was hooked.

Troutner says he also weighed late offers from Loyola and Maryland, who each had used up scholarship room for the incoming class arriving in 2016 — which meant Troutner would need a year at prep school. He had visited Salisbury (Conn.) School.

“But I wanted to go to college right away,” says Troutner, who had been pursued by Bellarmine and Furman (now SoCon rivals) and Towson (too close to home). Before Torpey’s offer came, Troutner was considering taking the local junior college route to get to Division I.

How did it come to that for a goalie whose high-level talent revealed itself so quickly at High Point?

The short answer is, Troutner got caught in circumstances that have affected numerous players in the sport’s recent age of prevalent, early recruiting. He also was victimized in a strange way by the lopsided success of his summer club team, the Annapolis Hawks.

At St. Mary’s, Troutner was surrounded by talented classmates or others who were early Division I signees, some as early as their freshman years. That pool included Jake Carroway (Georgetown), Tommy Miller (Navy), Kevin Fox and Aleric Fyock (Penn State), Bryce Carrasco (Loyola), Timmy Hardy and Paul Egloff (Villanova), Sean Mooney (Towson) and Jack Andrews (UMBC).

Even faceoff specialist and classmate Alex Woodall, another former St. Mary’s teammate, committed to High Point earlier in his senior year. Woodall transferred to Towson following his freshman season.

The fact that Troutner did not start for the Saints varsity until his final two seasons — under head coach and former Virginia All-America and MLL star attackman Ben Rubeor — proved to be problematic for his recruitment.

“I was a young coach and I got him [Troutner] wrong. He should have started [as a sophomore],” Rubeor says. “I remember Tim would come out on Friday nights to watch the Bayhawks [Rubeor’s team then] practice [at Navy]. I’d shoot on him after practice and I’d have a harder time scoring on him than I’d had against time the pro goalies I’d just practiced with.

“I am so glad he has made everything out of the opportunity given to him,” Rubeor adds. “That kid is a leader in every sense of the word. In my opinion, he’s the most underrated player in college lacrosse.”

On a club team as dominant as the Hawks, who averaged barely one loss per season, routinely blew out opponents by halftime and crushed them in the faceoff game with Woodall at the X, it was hard for Troutner to stand out.

“I’d get [college coaches] come out to watch Timmy play, and they’d see him face one shot in a half, before we’d changed goalies,” says Dave Cottle, the Bayhawks general manager and former college coaching legend who spent years assisting Tim Troutner, Sr., and Matt Hogan coaching the Hawks.

“I never thought of Timmy as a late bloomer. I always thought he was good. But he wasn’t appreciated early,” adds Cottle, who advised the Troutner family to be patient going into Tim’s senior year at St. Mary’s. “Not many parents today would have stayed the course the way the Troutners did. It worked out really well.”

As Tim Troutner, Sr. remembers, while his son was dreaming early in high school of playing for Duke or North Carolina or Johns Hopkins or Navy, Tim, Jr. watched underclassmen at St. Mary’s — even the occasional eighth grader — verbally commit to Division I schools.

All along, the father was sure of what his son could provide. Tim, Jr. was a standout safety at St. Mary’s, where he could read receivers and quarterbacks accurately, and pick off passes as well as any defensive back in the MIAA and better than most. Those instincts informed his play in the goal years ago, and still do.

“[Tim, Jr.] knows where the ball is going to go before it happens,” says Tim, Sr. “I remember how he shined at the Under Armour tryouts as a junior. Dave Cottle and Matt Hogan really believed in Tim. He already had the talent and the toughness [to be a Division I goalie]. But we had to be patient.

“Tim has always shaken off the bruises [a goalie gets]. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him cry. He never talked about being nervous [with recruiting anxiety]. He never felt the pressure. He just kept doing his job.”

“I’ve always tried to focus on what was right in front of me,” Troutner, Jr. says. “I’m still not fully developed as a goalie. When I got here, I had a terrible stance. I was a third-stringer the whole fall, thought I was going to red-shirt that year.

“But things have worked out. I look at so many relationships I’ve got with my teammates and coaches that I’ll always value. I look back on my decision [to come to High Point] with no regrets.”