Game Ready: Short-Term Memory, Out-of-Crease Confidence with Madison Doucette

PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER


Madison Doucette was made for Sixes. Ever since she put on skates and started playing ice hockey in her native West Chester, Pennsylvania, where as a teenager she became acclimated to the 6v6 format and the fundamentals of defending the puck.

Doucette was a three-time captain at Unionville High School (Pa.) and scored 150 career goals before focusing exclusively on lacrosse as the starting goalie at Northwestern.

A gold medal-winning goalie with the 2019 U.S. U19 team, Doucette was back to wearing red, white and blue as part of the U.S. Sixes evaluation roster last summer. She hopes to suit up when Sixes makes a splash at The World Games this summer in Birmingham, Alabama.

The attributes that make World Lacrosse’s new discipline so unique are also what interested Doucette as a budding hockey star — the non-stop action, the speed with which the ball (or puck) moved and the ability for every player on the field to be involved.

“Numbers-wise we’re the exact same and style-wise, the play is a lot more similar,” she said when comparing Sixes to hockey. “In terms of the intensity and versatility of players, it’s super well-rounded. As a goalie, you see way more shots in a much tighter timeline, which is always a good thing.”

Doucette likes that after allowing a goal in Sixes, she can take matters into her own hands.

“We get to respond from an error on our part in a way that we haven’t in the past,” she said. “As a goalie, if you miss the save, you usually have to scoop the ball out of the net and look a little sad. In Sixes, we can get the ball and immediately create offense and allow us to flip morale and change the energy. Absolute goldfish memory.”

The Ted Lasso reference was completely intended. Doucette cannot dwell on failure. Not in Sixes. She can only focus on the next play — which is initiated by the goalie. The discipline also places a premium on goalies who can contribute outside the crease, like with this ground ball sequence from an evaluation camp in Lake Placid, N.Y.







ASSESS THE SITUATION

“Possessing the rebound is the biggest thing,” Doucette said. “I’m usually going to take a jab step out to assess the situation to see if I can get to the ball.

“Ellie [Masera] was higher up, so I knew even if I was a step behind, I had the tighter angle and I trust my speed behind the cage. Once you’re out of the cage, it’s your responsibility to get the ball or make it really hard for the opposing player.”

CREATE SPACE

“I’m looking to make space around the ball so I either have time to scoop it myself or move it to a teammate,” Doucette said. “Knowing that I had a longer stick and reach, I got my right foot around to block her out and make sure I could have two hands on my stick to create that space around the ball. I keep my hips angled toward the end line initially so I don’t open up and tie myself up, knowing that I could flip that right hip in front of her to protect the ball as I swiveled up field.”

SHIELD THE OPPONENT

“I knew she couldn’t get around on my right side because there was an end line there. It was about positioning myself so that I could either flick it out to myself or another player,” Doucette said. “Since she was a righty coming to my right hip, she was at a disadvantage than if she could come from the left side. A mistake a lot of young players make is immediately going to scoop the ball, rather than surrounding the ball and putting yourself in the best position to pick it up.”

TRUST YOUR DEFENSE

“Prior to reaching the ball, I give a glance back upfield. Use your peripheral vision,” Doucette said. “I knew that [Mackenzie Burns] was back there and [Emma Ward] was on the backline, so I trust my team to get back and help out. I could buy some time, keep Ellie shielded and let Mack use her transition speed.”

SUPPORT THE CLEAR

“After flicking the ball to Mack to spring transition, I try to keep Ellie out of the play without infringing on any rules, like moving picks,” Doucette said. “I want to be there as a backup. If Mack is immediately running into a double, can I be there for her to swing the ball across the field to Emma? How can I put myself in the best position to help facilitate the transition? Then, if the ball is out of danger, I’ll eventually head back to the crease.”

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