Bassett in 2008, warming up before the state championship game against Chaparral High School.
By Robert T. Balint
Two weeks ago, Pierce Bassett became the first Arizona-raised lacrosse player to be named to a Division I All American team. Bassett, a 2009 graduate of Brophy College Prep and the current goalie for Johns Hopkins University, was named as the Second Team All American goalie by the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association.
Bassett started all four years in goal for the Brophy Broncos. From 2006 through 2009, Brophy made four straight state title appearances, winning it all in Bassett’s sophomore (2007) and junior (2008) years. A four-time All State selection, Bassett made the first team three times, and posted a sky-high .714 save percentage his senior year.
After graduation, Bassett headed to Baltimore to attend Johns Hopkins University, a traditional national lacrosse powerhouse. In his first year, he became the fifth freshman to start in goal for the Blue Jays since freshmen were made eligible to play in 1972. As Hopkins plays against the elites of the sports— Virginia, Duke, Maryland, etc.—he endured a trial by fire against the nation’s top scorers.
This past season, Bassett became one of the team leaders and helped the Jays to a 13-3 record and a #3 national ranking. In the NCAA tournament, Hopkins recorded a 12-5 win over Hofstra before being knocked out in the quarterfinals 14-9 by Denver. His 146 saves and .570 save percentage earned him a spot on the All American team. An old friend of mine, Pierce spoke to me over the phone earlier this week about his beginnings in lacrosse, the season and where things go from here.
You started playing lacrosse in sixth grade. When did you know you had found your calling?
I first started playing for St. Theresa Broncos in sixth grade I started playing goalie, and I liked it. I remember they needed a backup goalie, and I played soccer goalie and a catcher, so I thought, “Hey, I’ll give it a shot.” One of the big things I liked when I started playing was frustrating the shooters and the offense. That’s what clicked with me. It was enjoyable.
I was horrible my first year of goalie. I think we won one game. The coaches in middle school took a lot of shots on me and worked with me. Getting into freshman year, I wanted to play varsity, and I had an opportunity to try out and make the team.
You split 2-2 with Chaparral for state championships. What was that rivalry like?
I think the Chaparral-Brophy lacrosse rivalry is one of the best, at least in Arizona lacrosse. In the regular season (in 2006), we got smoked 11-2, and then lost in the finals 5-3. In my first years, nobody beat Chaparral—they were good, they deserved it. Every time you play them, it was a battle. There was a lot of emotion. It was one of the bigger games in the league. I know a lot of those guys, so it was a fun rivalry going.
Sophomore year (2007), it was our first-ever championship. It was one of the best feelings of my life, to win the first championship for the program. I couldn’t have been happier, for the seniors and for the team in general.
And then in 2008, we pulled out a nail biter against Chaparral, at Chaparral. We didn’t play as well as we wanted, but we still got that win.
Tell me about playing in the NCAA tournament, and the pressure that comes along with it.
It’s the NCAA tournament. You dream of playing in it when you’re a kid. This year, in that first game against Hofstra, I thought, “It doesn’t matter if it’s the NCAA tournament; it’s just another home game.” Just play your game, and don’t worry about where it is or what’s on the line. It was a great experience; hopefully we can improve on it. I think everyone’s really excited to get back to school.
How does it feel to be an All-American?
We had the All-American banquet the Sunday before Memorial Day. An absolutely terrific honor to be included with some really great goalies this year. I’m humbled to see an award like that. It’s not just you out there; you have a defense. I’ve been blessed to have a terrific defensive end that doesn’t get much credit as I think they should.
What are you going to focus on during this off-season?
One of the big things is being a leader. Being a junior, you come into a leadership role. I have to work on that. Other than that, I’m looking to improve my athleticism, my endurance, and take a look back at some of the games and the mistakes I made. Take as many shots as I can back home, get myself prepared.
We’ll have 12 juniors this year, and we had seven or eight of us playing. Another good senior class. I think we’ve got some great guys who can do great things.
Robert Balint (left) and Pierce Bassett at their 2009 graduation from Brophy College Prep.