Didn’t happen. If that dream was to be realized, it was going to have play out somewhere else other than
Rob made the Terrapins’ roster – as a manager.
Even though he practiced every day with the
“Maryland started to recruit other goalies and it became very apparent I wasn’t going to get an equal and fair opportunity to compete there,” said Wheeler, who had been recruited out of Friends by the likes of Loyola, Penn, Brown and Hobart after earning All-MIAA and All-City recognition with the Quakers.
“Randall and I have been friends for a long time and I respect his opinion,” said Wheeler. “Also, I looked at
Wheeler was also swayed to come to
“Friends is a very small school,” said Rob, a finance major and Dean’s List student carrying a 3.28 grade point average. “At
Wheeler has become the Tigers’ starting keeper, but the job wasn’t just handed to him.
In 2007, he appeared in two games for the Tigers, totaling 23 minutes. He made five saves without allowing a goal. Last year, he appeared in three games for 49 minutes. He made eight saves but gave up 11 goals. Both years, he played third fiddle behind Matt Antol and Billy Sadtler. Those two graduated last May, clearing the way for a new goalkeeper.
The chance that Rob had been waiting on presented itself this past fall. Seaman was looking for a goalkeeper and Wheeler was looking for a fair shake.
“I started playing really well in the fall,” said Rob. “It’s carried over to the spring. So far, I’ve been able to contribute.”
Wheeler turned enough heads in the fall to win the starting job.
“Rob is developing into a big time Division I goalie in each game that we play,” said Seaman. “His consistency has been excellent, and his ability to make the big saves at the most important times in a game are an addition to his play that goes well beyond my expectations.”
However, it wasn’t only the coaching staff Wheeler wanted to convince. He needed his Tiger teammates to know he was the guy to rely on in the nets. His play in the Air Force and Bucknell games should have answered any questions his teammates might have had.
Against Air Force, the Tigers forged an 11-5 lead but had to hold off the Falcons, who rallied with a four-goal run over a three-minute span to close within 11-9 with just under two minutes to play. Wheeler stopped the rally with two of his 14 saves coming in the final minute to help the Tigers protect that two-goal cushion.
At Bucknell last week, Rob equaled his career high with 14 saves. He had six stops in the fourth quarter, including three at point-blank range in the closing seconds as the Tigers beat the Bison, 8-7. He then shut out Drexel for the final 27 minutes while the Tigers overcame a 4-1 deficit to pick up an important 7-4 league win.
He was named as the Colonial Athletic Association’s Player of the Week for those last two performances.
“Those were big stepping points for all of us,” Rob said. “This is a good, young team we have that is certainly getting better.”
And so is Rob Wheeler, who after three years, has realized his goal as the starting keeper on a Division I college lacrosse team.