Steinert High’s Lauren Geiger clears the ball away from the Spartans’ net during a girls’ lacrosse game at Ewing High on April 13, 2017. Steinert won, 9-8. (Photo by Martin Griff.)

For Lauren Geiger, the thrill is in the sound.

As a valuable senior defender for the Steinert girls’ lacrosse team, Geiger doesn’t get to experience the excitement of scoring a goal and being engulfed by her teammates in a group hug. When that happens, she’s usually running from the other end of the field to join the party.

In Geiger’s world, it’s the non-score that fuels her competitive tank.

“I like stopping goals,” she said. “I like when you hear the ball hit off your stick, because you know you blocked a shot and it’s not going in. Or you’re going for a girl’s stick and you keep it where it is and knock the ball out and you just take it and go to goal or pass it off.”

Geiger is usually passing it off, as she is the Spartans’ stay-at-home defender, planted firmly in front of goalie Taylor Brister.

“She could move up, and she can take the ball all the way up field if she needs to,” Steinert coach Lorraine Heisler said. “I’m not telling her she can’t. But she’s just really good at that spot.”

Geiger is one of a growing breed of soccer players who have taken to lacrosse. When the sport was first taking hold, it was pretty much field hockey players who tried the sport. That has slowly changed over the years.

“Yeah, I think it has,” Heisler said. “I think in soccer, those players read the field differently than the way field hockey does. Obviously hockey has a lot more restrictions to it. In soccer, those girls read the field pretty well and that translates pretty nicely over to the sport of lacrosse.”

Geiger agreed that the two sports have similar qualities, except for the fact she’s utilizing different body parts.

“Soccer’s with your feet and lacrosse is with your hands, obviously,” Heisler said, while nursing a pulled muscle during the Spartans opening-day win over Ewing. “Whatever I use my feet for in soccer, I interpret it to my hands for lacrosse. It was an instinct right away for me when I started lacrosse. I didn’t have to get used to it. I used to play softball, so I always used my hands for throwing and catching.”

Geiger has been an athlete for as long as she can remember. Soccer was, and still is her first love as she started that in pre-school. She also dabbled in tennis and softball, but when she started at Steinert her sports had been whittled to only soccer.

Geiger made varsity as a sophomore and became part of the nucleus that progressed into one of Mercer County’s top teams last fall. Geiger scored six career goals from her midfield spot, and will play for Kings College in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, next year.

‘I’m hoping this year we can get to states. I hope we all stay positive and keep working at that goal.’

After her freshman season, Geiger wanted a sport to keep her in shape for soccer and decided to give lacrosse a try.

“My friend introduced me to it,” she said. “I picked up a stick and started playing and got used to it. I was actually pretty decent.”

Maybe it’s in the genes, as Geiger’s mom, Kelly, played high school lacrosse in West Virginia.

“She actually knows a little bit about the sport,” Geiger said. “She was the one who taught me how to cradle. I didn’t understand that.”

Geiger was placed on JV as a freshman, which she welcomed since it gave her the opportunity to get used to the sport without a lot of pressure.

“When they all first came in I think they were all very unsure of themselves, but throughout the years and all these games I think Lauren’s built confidence, which is big,” Heisler said. “Her skills have definitely improved, you can tell from last year to this year. That’s going to be really helpful for us in the back end.”

Geiger started her career as a defensive wing, which is more a midfield type position in which she moved up the field more, before dropping back on D.

“Now I just stay there and guard the ball,” she said. “I like it in the back. I just like protecting the goal and protecting my goalie.”

Although considered by Heisler as “sweet as pie” and a strong team leader when it comes to guiding Steinert’s younger players, Geiger defends with a vengeance but not with reckless abandon. Her strategy is to let them make the first move, and then react.

“You have contain them and not go full force into the player,” she said. “You just make sure you slow them down and are not full in their face.”

Geiger’s role is important, considering that if a girl gets by her, most of the time she has a straight shot at the goalie. That’s where Lauren’s ability to position herself comes in handy.

“She’s always in a good place and someone we can rely on back there to kind of anchor the defense and be there in big situations to help us out,” Heisler said. “She’s just a really consistent defender for us. I have confidence in her ability to stay on a girl, to mark up and to really kind of communicate with the other girls back there. I just feel safer with her back there, as one of our last lines of defense. “

Those strong defensive efforts helped Steinert to a 3-0 start this season and to the CVC Patriot Division title last year, which Geiger felt legitimized the Spartans as a lacrosse program.

“That really made us feel better about how we played, and about stepping up a little bit,” she said. “I’m hoping this year we can get to states. I hope we all stay positive and keep working at that goal.”

Geiger has other goals that she will pursue after putting down her lacrosse stick. An owner of a 3.7 grade point average and a member of Steinert’s Key Club, DECA, FBLA and Student Government, Geiger will major in business at Kings, with an eye on marketing.

“”I took marketing my sophomore year, and I had the best teacher ever; Mr. (Ron) Yacyk,” Geiger said. “He taught me a lot. He made me want to pursue that.”

Yacyk is also a Spartan track and field coach. Fortunately for Heisler, he did not talk Geiger into joining his sport to stay in shape for soccer. Actually, it was fortunate for Geiger herself, considering what lacrosse has meant to her.

“Lacrosse is definitely my second favorite behind soccer,” she said. “I just love it.”

And she really loves hearing that sound of the ball deflecting off her stick.