Since his early days in youth sports, Spencer Wood has welcomed the challenge of stopping any ball sent his way. Before becoming a standout goalkeeper on the St. Francis High boys lacrosse team, the Los Altos Hills resident was a soccer goalie and a baseball catcher.
“It’s not awkward to have something thrown at me, I guess,” said Wood, who graduated in May. “I almost enjoy it.”
Especially when that projectile ends up in his glove.
“Preventing a goal is something I really enjoy,” he said. “It’s fun.”
Wood hasn’t lacked for fun; few lacrosse goalies in the Central Coast Section have made as many saves as he has since 2017. Wood started on varsity his freshman year – earning West Catholic Athletic League Second Team honors – and was named the WCAL’s top goalie as a sophomore and junior.
Wood was in line to receive that distinction again this spring, but the season was canceled after three games due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“That was tough,” he said. “We were doing well (3-0) and just about to start league. This year was probably the best team I’ve been on at St. Francis. I thought we could go toe-to-toe with anyone.”
Although his high school career is over, Wood will be in goal again. He has committed to Bates College, a private liberal arts school in Lewiston, Maine, with a formidable NCAA Division III men’s lacrosse program.
“Bates plays in probably the best DIII conference,” Wood said of the New England Small College Athletic Conference. “It’s a tough conference to be in – it’s so strong and balanced – and the guys are really good.
Weighing his offers
Wood added that he had offers from two other colleges as well, but chose Bates after getting to know head coach Peter Lasagna during the recruiting process and visiting the campus a few times.
“I think it’s the best school for me. It has the best community feel for me – like what I felt at St. Francis,” he said. “The academics are great, I liked the guys on the team that I met and the coaches were awesome to me. There’s also good food on campus – that was a factor.”
Before this year, only one Lancer in program history had committed to a college to play NCAA-level lacrosse – Ben De La Cruz (Aurora University in 2018). That number is now up to three, though Wood’s longtime teammate and friend Jack Galbraith told the Town Crier last week that he intends to take a gap year before attending college.
Wood said isn’t sure what to expect in his first season with the Bobcats, whose starting goalie graduated in the spring, but he intends to be in the running to replace him.
“I know I’m a freshman, but I’ll do everything I can to get that spot,” said Wood, one of four goalies on the roster. “If not, I’ll be good competition to push the other guys.”
St. Francis coach Noah Temple doesn’t doubt that. He raved about the contributions Wood made to the Lancers in his four years on the team.
“Spencer has been one of the most impactful players in our program’s history, helping to develop and maintain a focused team culture and leading by example with his work ethic and attitude,” he said.
Putting in the work
Wood’s work ethic goes beyond the field; he made the U.S. Lacrosse High School All-Academic Team last year. Wood said he’s excited to take classes at Bates and explore two majors he’s considering: finance and history. School is slated to start the first week of September.
Before then, Wood plans to play in a two-day tournament with his new team late this month in Connecticut. He’s preparing for it by lifting weights, running and “seeing shots,” he said. “I meet up with friends and teammates three times a week,” Wood said. “It’s tough to find a place (to practice), but there are some fields in Menlo Park.”
That’s also where Wood coaches a team of 10-year-olds for the ADVNC Lacrosse Club.
“It’s a blast to work with them and help them develop,” he said.
Wood joined his first club team in second or third grade, he recalled, but switched to baseball and soccer after a few years. He returned to lacrosse in seventh grade – with no regrets.
“I got tired of those other sports and realized how much I missed lacrosse,” Wood said. “I feel blessed that I realized that at a young age.”
He quickly settled in at goalie. Wood had found his place.
“No one wants to play goalie at that age, but I did,” he said. “It’s always felt like a super natural thing for me.”