Rookie Goalie Emelia Bohi Making 'Crazy Strides' Each Day

Playing lacrosse started as something of a joke between Emelia Bohi and Kristen Coleman McDaniel. McDaniel took over the girls’ lacrosse team at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart during Bohi’s freshman year in 2017-18. Bohi, who earned a spot as the backup goalie for the varsity soccer team during her rookie campaign, also played JV hoops and moonlighted as the scoreboard operator for the varsity basketball team. McDaniel also ran the scoreboard. The two became friendly, and McDaniel started recruiting her for the lacrosse team.

Bohi felt she had enough on her plate.

“She was asking me about playing a spring sport, and I decided I didn’t want to play a spring sport because with soccer, we had to travel every weekend, so we’re never home,” Bohi said.

McDaniel apparently heard Bohi say something different.

“She came in a week later and was like, ‘I heard you were playing lacrosse.’ And I said, ‘No, I’m not playing a spring sport.’ And she was like, ‘No, you definitely should try goalie. We’ll give you some gear to try out,’” Bohi said.

Free gear was enough of a sales pitch to woo Bohi. She decided to give it a try. Mollie Carr, then a senior committed to Notre Dame, took shots on her in the two weeks leading up to tryouts. Despite only playing lacrosse for about 14 days, Bohi was named the varsity backup goalie. The following year, she was the starter. Through it all, she drew on her experiences as a soccer goalie.

“I like to come out of the crease a lot,” Bohi said. “Knowing how to move around people is similar to corners or crosses in soccer, so I think about that when I go for interceptions — tracking the ball [and using] hand-eye coordination.”

“She still has a lot to learn, but she is absorbing a lot. Each week, we see crazy strides.”

— Brittany Read on Emilia Bohi

If it sounds like Bohi was an overnight success in net, it’s because she was. But that doesn’t mean she didn’t have to make adjustments. The goal is smaller, but so is the ball — and attackers were firing it at her at breakneck speeds. But the biggest adjustment was mental.

“In soccer, the last team I played for in club, I didn’t get scored on,” Bohi said. “That doesn’t happen in lacrosse. You don’t have a game where you don’t get scored on. That was something I had to adapt to quickly, moving on quicker, and the speed of the game.”

Bohi quickly learned to have a short-term memory on the field. But Brittany Read couldn’t stop thinking about seeing her at a club tournament between her sophomore and junior years.

“She is an athletic kid, and it showed,” said Read, Denver’s assistant coach. “She has good hands. She’s athletic. When you learn she had only been playing for one year, I was like, ‘Wow, I wouldn’t have known that if you didn’t tell me that …This kid has so much more potential.’”

Bohi’s father, James, agreed, but she wasn’t convinced.

“I grew up playing soccer my entire life,” Bohi said. “My parents put so much money into it. I had been playing club since fifth grade, and I had just started playing club lacrosse after my freshman year.”

It turns out, father knows best. McDaniel also told Bohi she felt she had what it took to make it at the college level. Bohi was thrilled — she loved the faster speed of lacrosse compared to soccer.

“I had more fun playing it,” Bohi said. “It was newer. I just loved it.”

But even with her immediate successes, McDaniel told Bohi it wouldn’t be easy. Bohi continued to play club lacrosse and attend camps. She worked tirelessly on interceptions. Division I schools took note, including two close to home in Loyola and Navy. But Bohi was drawn to the academics, close-knit team culture and campus at Denver. After she committed to the Pioneers, she knew her work was just starting.

Bohi spent every fall Sunday of her senior year conditioning and practicing lacrosse. After the high school season ended, she played lacrosse three times per week and conditioned three times per week and attended camps.

Then, she got to campus, where the fall and preseason served as open tryouts for the starting goalie spot. Amelia Cole had graduated after producing an 8.99 goals-against-average and .449 save percentage during a season that saw Denver go 16-1, win the Big East and advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament. She made an immediate first impression and beat out junior Victoria Macres and senior Chloe Lewis for the job.

“She came in and played lights out,” Read said. “That translated in the season. She’s still riding that confidence. She also gained the trust of the defense by learning that she’s not just a goalie. She’s not just in the crease. With our defense, we are one unit.”

Earning the trust of Denver’s defenders was about more than picking up interceptions and making saves. It involved accountability, which can be hard for a rookie trying to find and keep their place on a team.

“Something we talk about a lot with all three goalies is being able to say, ‘I should have had that save. You guys played great defense,’” Read said.

That’s even more important considering that Denver employs a zone defense, and it’s a point of pride. The Pioneers currently rank sixth nationally in goals allowed per game (8.12) and have finished in the top 10 in Division I in three of the last five seasons. But the “one unit” idea was something that drew Bohi to Denver in the first place, and she’s embracing the mentality.

“I like how I am able to come out more and direct everyone,” Bohi said. “We force girls in certain directions. I can help more in zone and be like an eighth defender. There’s more communication [about] who is supposed to be where.”

And her start in soccer is coming in clutch.

“In soccer, the net is bigger, and you have more movement,” Read said. “That is probably where her athletic ability comes from — moving more in soccer.”


Bohi has her freshman moments, though, and there are times when her inexperience shows. Take the first quarter on March 13 against Michigan when the Wolverines jumped out to a 5-1 lead.

“They were getting feeds right on top and scoring high-percentage shots,” Read said. “We kept telling [Emelia] to play higher and go for interceptions and be that eighth defender, come out on them.”

It worked. Michigan scored three goals over the final 45 minutes of the game, including none in the fourth quarter. At one point, Read could hear the Wolverines say, “Stop feeding.” Denver rallied for a 9-8 win, and Bohi walked away feeling more in tune than ever with Read.

“It taught me a lot about our relationship,” Bohi said. “I always knew I could trust her, but it made me have a lot more faith in her.”

The victory was the first of an eight-game winning streak for the Pioneers, who dropped a close 12-10 decision to Colorado Wednesday night. Bohi stopped a career-high nine shots against Drexel on March 25 and posted seven in a win over Villanova last weekend. Ever the eighth defender, she leads Big East goalies in caused turnovers with 14.

But Bohi has her eyes on team prizes. She rattles off the usual suspects when asked about her goals for the season and her time in Denver: A conference title, a final four appearance and a national championship.

The Pioneers are favored to accomplish the first this season. They sit atop the Big East, close out the regular season Saturday against Marquette and will host the conference championship May 5 and 7. The second two goals — a final four appearance and a national title — would be historic firsts for Denver.

Read has the same ambitions. But for now, she’s enjoying the ride with her rookie goalie.

“I think she is going to get better with every game,” Read says. “She still has a lot to learn, but she is absorbing a lot. Each week, we see crazy strides.”