Facing Off with Bud Petit
Q: You graduated last May but you had another year of eligibility. What went in to your decision to return this season?
Petit: It was actually kind of a harder decision than I thought it would be. But I knew I had a good chance to start this year going into the fall. Also, I had the upper hand just because of my experience. You never know how a freshman goalie will come in like Adam (Ghitelman) and how he’ll fare. He came in and did really well and struggled a little bit in the middle of the season. Adam and I have just been really good friends all year. When the team needed someone else to step up, I came in and did that for the most part. But other than that I just wasn’t really ready to get my life going yet, so school’s a good option. (Playing) is fun so, obviously, that’s the main reason I wanted to be here.
Q: Adam Ghitelman was a highly regarded goalie coming in this season. Assess your play back in the fall and the competition between the two of you.
Petit: It was more fun just getting to know him. As a freshman, you are just so scared and everything is so much faster. It’s a whole different league so I had the upper hand for the first couple of weeks. As long as you can save the ball, it doesn’t matter how old you are as a goalie. It’s just who can save the ball better.
I thought I had a great fall. It was probably my best fall I’ve had here at UVa. Other than that, it’s just been uphill from there. I’ve had a few tough times and I couldn’t start from the beginning of the season, but other than that I definitely played the best so far (in my career) this year.
Q: You mentioned how you didn’t start at the beginning of the year and that Adam was the starter going into the Drexel game. How tough was it when you learned that was going to be the case?
Petit: I had one tough day. Then the next day I went out with Adam about an hour early to practice, and we just sat and talked with each other. He gave me some good words of confidence and that’s just (the way) our friendship has been all year.
Now it has kind of switched roles. When that happened we went out an hour early that day of practice, too, and talked. And we’ve been talking before practice and on the phone on Wednesday nights. I would call him just to talk and it’s been the best friendship I’ve developed, even though we’re competing with each other as hard as we can trying to make each other better. It’s good to know that even when you are competing with someone at your same position that when all is said and done you can be best friends.
Q: Even though you weren’t playing a lot early in the season, how did it make you feel that the other players still looked to you as one of the team leaders and one of the guys that they look to for inspiration?
Petit: It was good. I know being the older guy and being really experienced, they know that I had been through a lot. My freshman year (2004) we had the worst season UVa history and two years later we had the best season in UVa history, and I am the only one on the team that has been through that. Some of these young guys probably don’t even know that. A couple of the (older) guys recognize that, know that I have seen a lot of adversity in my career, and they know that no matter what happens, I think they have the confidence in me of being a good goalie at the end of the day.
Q: Adam had a couple of rough games before the switch was made for you to replace him as the starter. Did you have a sense that a change was coming and what did Coach Starsia tell you when he decided to make the change?
Petit: Coach is a tough one (when it comes to making a change), so I was a little frustrated that it wasn’t a little sooner. At the same time I wasn’t surprised that it was that long, since it should be what’s best for the team in the long run.
We were still winning games when Adam was struggling a little bit, so it’s hard to take a kid out when at the end of the day you still get a W. I am too old and mature to be frustrated for months on end about it. I have been in this position for a while, so it wasn’t anything new. But two months later you never know what’s going to happen. That is why the back-up goalie is the back-up goalie because he’s always got to be ready, and I was. And here I am.
Q: Your first start of the year came against North Carolina and it was your first start in several years. It was a game where the team really needed a win and a pick me up. What did it feel like for you going into that game knowing you were going to get to start?
Petit: It felt pretty awesome; I was excited. Everyone was asking me if I was nervous. I was just nervous that I wouldn’t make one save, but eventually the weather kind of played in our hands and we thought they would shoot low for some reason. I made a few saves early and it really helped my confidence and I got settled in. It was just another day of playing against guys in different jerseys. Other than that it was exciting and was more or less just getting to know the other guys on our team the defense. I barely ever played with Matt Kelly and Ken Clausen. Four days earlier it was my first time to play with them in three years. It helped out making some saves and it helped these guys out to get some confidence that if they mess up there is someone behind them to save them.
Q: How important is it for a goalie to get a couple of saves early?
Petit: It’s not like ALL the difference but it definitely helps out. I think it gets you so much more confidence being able to say, I saw where that shot’s going, I’m on it today.’
Against UMBC, I don’t I made a save until almost the end of the half. I knew that doesn’t mean that I’m not playing bad. There were a couple of goals that went by me that I thought I should have had. You can’t save every shot, it’s impossible, so you’ve just got to forget about it and just get stronger and just keep getting better and better as the game goes on no matter what happened in the past.
Q: You had confidence in your abilities going into the North Carolina game. Now you’ve made several saves and had some key plays to lead the team to victory. Did it help increase your confidence knowing you led the team to an important overtime victory against North Carolina?
Petit: Yes, definitely. I think if we had lost that game the next week’s practice would have been a lot different. We were on the upswing especially because we came back from behind late in the game to pull it out and that was huge for our team all around.
Q: You’ve held onto the starting job since that time. Assess your level of play since.
Petit: I don’t if my play has been better or worse. I’d like to say that I have been pretty consistent. I’m starting to get more comfortable with what’s going on.
For example, the first shot against UNC, the guy shot it and it blew right by me and hit the pipe. Thank God it didn’t go in. That was a huge wakeup call because you’re actually out there and not on the sidelines anymore and you can’t relax. Now I’m ready for the game right away which most people would say, why weren’t you ready anyway.’
But it’s a little different and you just become more comfortable with the atmosphere and the setting of everything and you become more comfortable with whom you’re going against.
Q: What were some of the things you picked up when you were on the sidelines and had a different view of the game?
Petit: Watching Kip (Turner) and Tillman (Johnson) for the last few years, you learn that a couple of saves can really change a game. For instance, in the second Duke game we were down six or seven goals and I made a couple of saves in the third quarter and then we started scoring.
If I let those goals go in, you never know (what might have happened). It’s a huge momentum swing if you can make a few saves because it boosts the whole team.
I like to get the ball going, getting out and trying to get transition going. I think our offense now sees that and so they are expecting a save and when they see that, they know that they are going to get the ball real quickly so that they can try to do something. I think just from a save it just lifts the whole team.
Q: You mentioned that you did your first save in the UMBC game until late in the first half. Then late in the game you had a couple of unconventional saves where the ball hit you, once in the face even. What do you remember about those couple of saves in the last minute or so?
Petit: There was one from the side that hit my stick and it twisted my stick around in my hand. I thought it might have just trickled in. I don’t know where it went but it didn’t go in which is good.
The last one was a back door cut on Kenny (Clausen) where the guy (Terry Kimener) made a great shot and shot it right in my face. I didn’t even see it, so I just kind of stayed big.
Q: This weekend the team plays Maryland in the quarterfinals at Navy. Maryland is a team that you’ve already started against this year. How does facing a team that you’ve seen once before affect your preparations?
Petit: It’s good to know that you know what their objectives are offensively and defensively. You know their main shooters are. Everyone in college can score but there are certain guys who will have the ball at certain times so you kind set up a game plan to play into that scenario. I think I played pretty well against them the first time and it gives me confidence knowing that I can do it again.
Q: What do you think will take to win this game this weekend?
Petit: First and foremost a good week of practice. You know it’s getting the guys excited since there’s supposed to be 25,000 people there.
If we just execute our game plan and if our offense makes a few goals, especially early, it really helps the defense out because we get fired up when they score. Once we get one or two goals, (the defense can say), they did their part now, now we just take care of ours.’
If we can take care of our part on our end, I think we will be happy at the end of the day.
Q: You said that coming back to school was not such a bad thing. What are your plans after your career is over?
Petit: I’m doing some job interviews now. I’m looking into going to Chicago where I was born. Other than that I really don’t know. I should be more focused on that right now, but with the last week or two of my career just ahead, I’m just going to put everything into that.