XENIA — When he started playing lacrosse in sixth grade, Paxton Bartley was thrown in front of the proverbial firing squad.
Playing for the Beavercreek sixth grade club team due to the lack of one in Xenia, Bartley was “voluntold” to play goalie because nobody else wanted to.
“I just got thrown in there,” the Xenia High School senior said. “They’re like, you want to try it?”
Bartley tried it then and resumed playing in high school. And now he is finishing up what is the best statistical goalie season in Ohio lacrosse history. Bartley tied and broke the previous record of 225 saves — set by John Kalagidis Grunder of Canton GlenOak in 2019 — in a 10-3 loss to Wilmington at Doug Adams Stadium Monday.
After a 10-save effort in an 11-3 win over Northmont Wednesday, Bartley has 249 stops. Once verified, that number will obliterate the previous record. Bartley will also be in the record book for saves in game as he has had multiple matches with at least 11, which is the minimum for inclusion.
Despite the lofty status in Ohio, Bartley deflected the praise back to the other Bucs.
“I want to thank my teammates,” he said. “They’re working every single day with me too. They deserve some kudos.”
But when the shot is taken, more times than not because of the game’s speed, it’s just Bartley and the ball. Having been a goalkeeper in middle school soccer, and an offensive lineman in high school football, Bartley is accustomed to things coming at him hard and fast.
“Understanding angles and stuff has transitioned well for him,” said Coach Matt Bartley, who doubles as Paxton’s father. “He has a tremendous IQ in the game. He will watch pregame. He’ll get a good feel of who their shooters are and who likes to shoot. He does track balls well when they’re coming off the stick.”
Paxton said many times it’s just a guessing game.
“It’s almost like, if I try to look for the ball, it’ll be too late,” he said. “If he swings the stick low, it’s going low. If he swings it up top, it’s going up top. It’s something you learn over time.”
Paxton was a quick study. He played two years when Xenia had a club team and would have been the starting goalie last season had the coronavirus not reared its ugly head. So this is his first and only varsity season and he’s already at the top of the record book.
Ironically had it not been for Caleb Nilo, coach of the Newark team, the record could still belong to Grunder. Prior to Xenia’s game at Newark last Saturday, Nilo commented to Matt Bartley about Paxton’s play and asked how many saves he had.
Informed that Paxton had 213, Nilo said it had to be close to a record. Matt Bartley checked the records, and after an 11-save effort against the Wildcats, Paxton was just one away from tying the record.
After breaking the record, Matt Bartley called a timeout and it was announced to the crowd.
“Fans for both teams clapped,” he said. “They know being a goalie is a hard job. It’s just nice to watch kids get celebrated for doing something unique.”
While he is thrilled to have the record, Paxton is more team oriented as Bucs gear up for their first post-season appearance.
“I just want us to play good,” he said. “I want the team to play to our full potential.”
And maybe set a record or two along the way.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.