If there's a difference between reaching a milestone and setting a record, Crocker's senior goalkeeper now knows.
Before Tuesday's home game against Fair Grove, Crocker's senior goalkeeper Rich Heenan was on the brink of setting a new state record for career saves – a record held by Waynesville's Wade Brown since 1991. Sitting idly by at 684 saves before the home match against Fair Grove, Heenan quickly tied the record at 685 before breaking it 14 minutes into the second half. Heenan finished with five total saves in the contest to push the new record to 689.
Crocker won 2-0 as Heenan set the state record in shut out fashion, his twenty-second career shutout.
Ultimately, the keeper disregarded the record during the game and focused simply on winning over Fair Grove. Afterward, however, the feeling finally welled its way into the young man's heart.
"It feels pretty awesome," Heenan said. "I think the only thing better would be to win the State Championship."
Coach Kevin Zimmerman mentored Heenan in each year of his varsity career, which began as a freshman. Since, Heenan has started in nearly every game, propelling his team to three-straight District Championships – they are hopeful of a fourth in 2012.
"He's always been there at goalie making big plays for us," Zimmerman said. "I just leave him to do his thing."
Not only does Heenan exhibit superior skills as a goalkeeper, but also as a cherished leader.
"We have a young team this year and he keeps everybody together and moving in the right direction," Zimmerman said. "Everybody expected us to have a down year this year but his leadership and goalkeeping has kept us right in there to make another run at a District Championship."
One of the biggest burdens of playing goalkeeper is the amount of emotiional pressure exerted on an athlete. Heenan, according to Zimmerman, has a tremendous ability to look past a missed save opportunity toward the team's next possession.
"He keeps things together when bad things do happen," Zimmerman said. "And, when we need the big plays, it always feels like he comes through to make them."
Communication is also an oft-used tool in Heenan's figurative toolbox.
"I try to lead my defense and direct them where to go and I help my offense out by letting them know how much time they have," Heenan said.
Not many high school soccer teams have the luxury to possess a four-year goalkeeper. The amount of success for Crocker's soccer program since Heenan took over in 2009, Zimmerman said, is the ultimate tribute to the goalkeeper's record-breaking career.
Heenan's mother, Chrystal, described her son as not only a spectacular athlete, but also as a model citizen.
Page 2 of 2 - "He is a leader both on and off the field and a very modest person," she said. "I just can't say enough great things about this wonderful young man."
Boasting a 4.0 grade point average, Rich will graduate at the top of his class in 2013.
In his career, Rich has been named to the Mo. All-Central Team twice, earning an overall record of 61-23. And, with nine games left to play, Heenan can only build his saves record into a towering number no goalie may ever match.
Crocker is scheduled to play Osage at home Thursday at 4:30 p.m.