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High school lacrosse: Dover's Chalifour sets state saves record through grit, 'irrational confidence'

Apr. 25—DOVER — Dom Chalifour calls it an "irrational confidence."

That's how Dover High School's senior lacrosse goalkeeper described the feeling each time he stops a shot.

"The more I save, the more I feel like I'm going to save every shot and the quicker I feel," he said.

Like any goalie, Chalifour can't make every save. But he has made more saves than anyone in the history of New Hampshire high school lacrosse.

Chalifour set the state saves record on Wednesday in Dover's 19-6 NHIAA Division I loss to Bedford at Bellamy Field.

The UMass Boston commit made 22 saves, including the 700th of his career, which broke the record of 699 that was owned by Pinkerton Academy alum Matt Johnson.

Chalifour, who started playing goalie in third grade because his team needed someone to fill the cage, finished the game with 713 career saves.

First-year Dover coach Chris Ketcham said Chalifour plays the position with "a lot of grit" and hustles nonstop. Chalifour chases end-line balls even in practice, the coach said.

On the record day, a flash downpour soaked Dover's grass field with Chalifour still shy of 700 saves. By the end of the game, more than half of Chalifour's uniform was covered in mud — an obvious sign of that grittiness.

"There's sometimes where if he gets hit ... he's not one to back down," fellow Dover senior captain Jackson Bairstow said. "He's going to come back firing, whether that be while he's running with the ball or he makes a save.

"He always plays with so much heart and he's always been that way."

Before every game, Chalifour goes through the same routine.

He does the same drills in warmups and listens to the same playlist of songs, most of which are rap, and he always listens to "Mase in '97" by Gordo and Lil Yachty last.

"I do everything the same before every game ... just get myself in the mindset to try to save every shot that comes at me," Chalifour said.

Ketcham said Chalifour thrives off his emotion. The Green Wave, Bairstow said, thrive off Chalifour.

"If we're in a huddle or even on the field, if he makes a bunch of saves, that brings the entire group up and gets us all hyped for the next one," said Bairstow, a long-stick midfielder who has played lacrosse with Chalifour since grade school.

Chalifour calls the Dover defense. Against Bedford, he frequently told his defensemen to get into their "zombie" scheme or to switch from zombie into another, code-named "pyro."

Communicating with the defense is one of Chalifour's biggest strengths and a trait he is passing down to his successor, junior backup goalie Zack Grigg. Grigg has really quick hands and feet, Chalifour said, and is doing a great job improving his communication.

An attackman before high school, Grigg credited Chalifour as a reason for his progress.

"Dom's just a leader on and off the field," Grigg said. "He's honestly evolved me as a goalie, has gotten me so much better. He makes me look at the game much different."

Ketcham said Chalifour makes Dover's attackmen better, too. Practicing against a goalie who is so effective helps them get a good gauge of what they'll face in games, Ketcham said.

Chalifour also provides his attackmen feedback.

"I'm trying my best to help everybody get better every day because I want to improve myself every day and I want to bring up everybody around me," Chalifour said. "I just try to give tips and tricks.

"I've been doing this a little while."

ahall@unionleader.com