Japanese and lacrosse usually don’t go hand-in-hand. But for men’s lacrosse sophomore goaltender Harry Krieger, the Asian language and culture bear many similarities to the sport that he has been playing since he was five years old.
“In Japanese, you have to be assertive and confident in what you are saying,” Krieger explains. “When you’re trying to tell your teammates what’s going on in front of you as a goalie, you also have to be very assertive or you will sound like you’re not in control.”
The Crimson’s goalkeeper is having a career season—he has started all 12 games and recorded a career-high 19 saves in a comeback win against No.14 UMass on March 29—all while renewing his interest in Japanese.
“I did it through high school and then I started it again this year,” Krieger says. “I’ve learned new things about the language and culture. The program moves very fast and I love it.”
Krieger’s mother, Kathie Krieger, attributes the goalie’s interest in Japanese to family experiences.
“His older brother took Japanese and spent two summers in Tokyo,” Kathie says. “We also hosted a Japanese exchange student for a year. So that’s how he got into it.”
In addition to being an academic interest, Japanese has also inspired Krieger’s attitude on the field.
“When you’re on the field, you’re not only representing yourself,” Krieger says. “You’re also representing your family, school, and teammates. So honor and respect must always be there, which is consistent with the Japanese culture...If you’re not doing your best, you’re disrespecting your family. And in lacrosse, your team is like your family.”
With that mentality, the netminder has developed into one of the leaders of the team, despite it being only his second year on the squad.
“As the goalkeeper, you’re the last line of defense,” says Crimson coach Chris Wojcik ’96. “So you’re expected to be a leader, and this year he has emerged as one of our defensive leaders. He’s a guy that our team really looks for direction and communication on defense.”
“He’s the leader of our defense,” sophomore midfielder Ryan Stevens echoes. “He directs pretty much everything that happens on the defense side of the field. He’s like the quarterback of our defense.”
Krieger’s quick rise to leadership is no surprise to his high school coach, Rick Brocato, who says that Krieger’s approach to academics and lacrosse made him well-respected by peers and elders alike.
“He understood the value of academics, leadership, and citizenship,” says the St. Paul’s men’s lacrosse head coach. “He didn’t demand the respect of everybody; he commanded it.”
During his high school years at St. Paul’s, Krieger broke his collarbone three times playing lacrosse. As remarkable as his recoveries are, how he handled the injuries at the moment is arguably even more impressive.
“It was like having an assistant coach,” Brocato recalls. “He would help the defense and the backup goalie in understanding our defensive strategies in practice and games. He also worked really hard to strengthen the shoulder so he could come back in his best shape.”