By CHRIS CHRISTOPHER
Ali Chomsky is the last line of defense on the soccer field.
Not that she minds.
“I like the high pressure aspect of it,” the Ocean Township High School girls team’s senior goalie said. “When the other team is coming down the field with the ball, it just comes down to the other player and myself. I like the strategy that goes with playing keeper. It is not just a physical position. You also have to play smart in addition to being aggressive.”
Chomsky began goalie training at the age of seven. She was a goalie and forward on a traveling team, the Cyclones of the Ocean Township Soccer Association.
“Playing forward definitely helped me play goalie,” she said. “Some goalies only think about where they have to be. They don’t necessarily have the mindset of a forward. It benefits me to know what a forward is thinking when she comes at me so that I can position and angle myself better.”
Chomsky helped the Spartans to a 10-9 record through their first 19 matches of the season. She made 133 saves.
“When I am scored on,” she said, “I don’t necessarily forget about it and it fuels me. A lot of girls make fun of me as I scream, ‘Pick it up.’ When I was younger, I would become very upset when I was scored on. I did not handle it that well. Now that I am in my second varsity season in goal, I am more confident in goal and I know I can’t blame myself for everything.
“I take goals very hard, but I use them to fuel me instead of making me upset. When I was younger, a coach told me, ‘Don’t get sad about it. Just get angry.’ ”
Ocean coach Rob Curran said Chomsky is able to anticpate where shots are going to go.
“Sometimes, I tell her she has Stick’em on her gloves as she will catch a point blank shot if she does not knock it out or punch it away,” he said. “That is great for a keeper. The less shots you push away, the smaller the chance is for a rebound. Last year, she pushed away a few balls. This year, she grew a lot as a player. She has grown naturally in terms of her reaction time and everything has been spot on for her this year.”
The 5-foot-4 Chomsky is small for a keeper.
“For her height, she can get from corner to corner of the net,” Curran said. “And, she has a fantastic punt. Sometimes, it goes 10 to 15 yards past the midfield and for a keeper that is what you want. She can also throw the ball. She is pretty smart. She knows when to settle it down. She picks up the ball and plays it out. She realizes we don’t have to rush the ball down the field. She takes a breath and lets her defense take a breath. She lets the offense become situated and plays the ball.
“If she sees we can counter attack quickly, she launches the attack without guidance from myself or any of the other coaches. She gets the ball to our outside midfielders if she sees we have the chance to counter quickly.”
Chomsky captains the Spartans with senior center midfielder Alison Weinstein, junior center midfielder Carla Anderson and junior back Emily Bekampis. The captains were chosen by their teammates shortly before the season.
“We leave it up to the girls to see who steps up ad she was a runaway with the votes,” Curran said. “Almost every girl on the team had her as one of the captains.”
The Spartans won five of their first six matches.
“We were red hot,” Curran said. “Ali was very level headed. When we started to take our bumps and bruises, she was still the same level headed leader you wanted. She never gave up.”
Chomsky is vastly improved from last season.
“She has become much more confident,” he said. “She realized she had to take charge and almost carry this team as she knew we would be a young team. She knew we would have our struggles, but she stepped up and handled the team.”
Chomsky also competes in the javelin for the Spartans. She owns a personal record of 125-2–the best toss in school history. The effort placed her 12th during the spring at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions. She wound up competing at the New Balance Nationals in North Carolina and is a candidate to toss the javelin at the Penn Relays at Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia next spring.
“I had a very off day at the nationals,” she said. “I threw about 20 feet under my personal record. I think it was more of a mental thing than anything else. I had never thrown on a big stage like that before and I was just happy to get to that point. Plus, we had a three-hour rain delay. That got the best of me. I did not have my best day, but it happens.
Chomsky began competing in the pole vault as a sophomore and took up the javelin late in the season.
“One of my coaches suggested I try the javelin and I fell in love with it right away,” she said. “I am trying to do the javelin in college. My junior year was my first real season in the javelin and I progressed a lot.”
Chomsky qualified for the MOC with a sixth place finish in Group III at 119-8.
“In every big meet, I was relaxed,” she said. “I did not overthink it. What was killing me was I overthought everything. Things got muddled up and they got to me. When the championship season came, I was focused a lot more. I did not worry too much about how far I was throwing.”
Chomsky enjoys the individual aspect of the javelin.
“Track and field is a team sport, but when I comes down to it, it’s an individual sport,” she said. “I focus on self-improvement and see what what I am doing wrong. I try to fix it. I really enjoy being able to do that. When I step on the runway, everything clears out of my mind. It is relaxing for me as throwing the javelin is all I am focusing on. My mind just clears and I really like it.”
Chomsky hopes to compete in the shot put during the winter season when there is no javelin event.
“I am also working on the discus,” she said. “My main goal for the winter is just to get stronger for the spring season.”
Her goals in the javelin for the spring season are simple.
“I would really, really like to win the Meet of Champions,” she said. “That is my main goal. I just hope to keep breaking my school record. I want to throw in the 140-foot area. I am shooting for first place. I can feel it. I feel if I just work really hard this season and really focus then it will be possible. I am trying to make that happen.”
An aspiring business major, Chomsky attends the Marine Academy of Science and Technology on Sandy Hook where she is enrolled in honor classes.
“There are so many unique opportunities at my school,” she said. “I am in a field research class. We catch fish every other week.”
Her college choice has yet to be determined. She has been accepted at the University of Pittsburgh.
“I told Ali there is nothing wrong with being a two-sport athlete in college,” Curran said. “I told her there is definitely a place where she play two sports. She threw up her hands and said, ‘I just want to throw.’ “