The Vancouver Warriors Brandon Goodwin was raised to play a tough, never-give-up brand of lacrosse. He was raised to be the type of player that the Warriors’ newest Head Coach, Troy Cordingley, would want on one of his teams.
Not that it needs to keep being brought up, but the Warriors have undergone unprecedented changes over the past few months. Mitch Jones was traded to the Philadelphia Wings, Justin Salt was released, Steve Fryer was released, Aaron Bold was brought in, and Logan Schuss needed to be placed on the Injured Reserve List-Season Ending, just to name some of the notable transactions – the majority of them happened at the end of January/beginning of February.
Sometimes changes need to be made when things aren’t working out, even if they seem harsh and uncomfortable. Since the 2018-19 NLL Season, the Warriors have had a record of 18-43, and they have not won more than six games in any of the four seasons that have taken place in that span. Goodwin has been found a way to be a fixture on the team’s roster, playing out the backend and feeding the ball forward in transition.
There was a brief moment in time where Goodwin was not a member of the Warriors, but it was only for two days, and it was during the offseason. Goodwin was left unprotected ahead of the 2019 Expansion Draft and he was picked up by the Rochester Knighthawks on July 9th. On July 11th, the Knighthawks traded Goodwin back to the Warriors in exchange for their third round selection in the 2019 Entry Draft.
“I’ve been part of this organization for quite a few years, and things have always felt familiar,” Goodwin said. “I think this is the first year where things have started to change. We’ve made big moves; we’ve made aggressive moves. A change of culture doesn’t happen overnight. I think it’s shown that when we show that we want to play, we’re very successful.”
Goodwin’s father, Steve, who has been around the game for decades, including having coached the WLA’s New Westminster Salmonbellies, did everything he could to drill an unrelenting, dominating style of play into Brandon and his brother’s heads, sometimes to the point where it would lead to clashes between them.
“I think that comes from years of my old man yelling at me,” Goodwin said. “He played lacrosse for many years, and he coached me for a lot of years, so we got into it a lot. He pushed me and my brother when we were very young. If we took a shift off or we weren’t working hard enough, he’d be in our ear and let us know. I want to keep pushing that mentality with this team.”
“That’s the culture [Coach Cordingley] is trying to build. He’s not a man of many words, but when he does speak, you have to listen. When he speaks, it’s important. He’s aiming for me to keep working hard on the floor, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
He has been with the team since the run-up to the 2017-18 NLL Season. Believe it or not, if you look at the team’s roster from that year, the only other player that remains with the team to this day is Logan Schuss. So, it’s fair to say that Brandon Goodwin is a veteran face of this franchise.
The 31-year-old (he turns 32 on April 1st) New Westminster B.C. native has played 52 games with the Warriors – and 18 games when the team was named the Vancouver Stealth. Those 52 games played as a member of the Warriors are the 4th-most on the team since they changed their name from the Stealth before the 2018-19 NLL Season.
Goodwin has had to see many teammates, mentors, and friends leave the team while he has stayed put. That can be hard to deal with because the box lacrosse community is very tight-knit. But you can’t lose sight of the fact that the NLL is a business, and changes are bound to happen. All you can do as a player is focus on what you can do to help be the best it can be.
“It’s tough, but at the end of the day, I’ve learned a ton from these guys,” Goodwin said. “The Beers’, the Salts’, I’ve learned a ton from them over the years, but, like I’ve said, [the NLL] is a business. At the end of the day, we’re trying to make our team better – I don’t have a say in it, but you do what the coaches and G.M. say.”
The fact that Goodwin is still with the Warriors, with many of the team’s prominent faces now out of the lineup, means that he can be more of a leader on this team. Besides Tyler Codron (36) and Brett Mydske (34), Goodwin is the most senior member of the defensemen or transition players. Goodwin does his part with those two veteran defensive guys to get the most out of the young core.
When Matt Beers was on the team for the first three years that Goodwin was with the Warriors, Goodwin took full advantage of trying to learn from Beers and pick up any tricks and tips to improve his game. Beers was a role model to Goodwin. He set an excellent example of how to play physical and disciplined defense while also instilling lessons on how to keep working on getting better off the floor.
“I think my leadership role is growing as these guys have gone,” Goodwin said. “I’m not the loudest guy in the room, but I think I’m somebody who leads by example – that’s what I pride myself on. I think my actions on the floor speak for themselves. I will hustle and never give up on a play, which I think is contagious. That’s something Beersy [Beers] always taught me.”
Since the seismic shifts in the lineup about a month and a half ago, there has been a notable transformation in the team’s play, and nothing shows that there have been improvements more than wins on the board.
The Warriors are currently on a two-game win streak, averaging 15 goals per game in that span. In the team’s last match (facing the Las Vegas Desert Dogs), Bold, Goodwin, and the defense held the opposing offense to 5 goals – the fewest goals they allowed in a single game since January 2020.
“I feel like guys are having fun again!” Goodwin said. “I think that has been the biggest difference. The O is playing loose, and the ball is swinging extremely well. The defense is playing as one unit, and we are getting better game by game.”
“As we keep going game-by-game, I think that change of culture is going to keep taking effect, and we’re going to be a better team later in the season.”
By Adam Levi