THURSDAY, JANUARY 19, 2012
Fuzzy math? No, Hurley’s shot an equalizer
Amanda Hurley prepares to uncork a shot. Play Video
Amanda Hurley prepares to uncork a shot.
When does 5-7 equal 7-8? When you’re JU’s Amanda Hurley and you fire one of the hardest shots in all Division I women’s lacrosse.

Hurley, an attacker from Columbus, Ga., isn’t the biggest player around at 5 feet-7 inches but has arguably one of the hardest shots in the game. Last fall, she was clocked by team coaches at 78 mph.

She wasn’t particularly surprised by the speed as it was an athletic progression and she has an unwavering belief her shot is among the hardest around.

“Yeah, I do,’’ she said. “I just believe that it’s an unbeatable shot. That’s the number one thing above skills, just believing that you can shoot harder than anybody else. As an athlete, in order to improve you always have to be unsatisfied with yourself.

When I heard that time it was me saying if I got 74 one day I’d want 75 the next.’’

The 78 mph was no fluke. Her average shot goes a little better than 70 mph and for comparison sake, the remainder of the team averages about 54 mph. Not surprisingly, Hurley has her ice blue eyes on 80 mph.

All this didn’t happen overnight but has evolved since she took the game up in junior high school and honed it on the ball fields of Columbus.

“I would go to the back stop at a softball field and put Dixie cups in the spokes of the fence,’’ she said. She wasn’t particular on where she practiced. “Anywhere I could find a backstop or fence.’’

The exercise science major began realizing in high school she had something special and worked hard on the shot which involves a complicated combination of wrist snapping, weight transfer and her entire body to accomplish.

She originally used the weapon in free position shots but has been able to adapt it to game conditions.

“In free position you have a couple of seconds to think about where you want to shoot, how you plant your feet, versus in a game everything is moving and has to be fluid,’’ said Hurley, who had 29 goals and a 54.7 shooting percentage last season.

“The coaches here have developed my skills and my mechanics and fine-tuned it. It’s a little more precision now but the biggest thing is having the confidence that no goalie is going to stop your shot.’’

JU assistant coach Adam Norton, a goal keeper in college, has felt the wrath of Hurley in practice.

“I’ve hopped in (to goal) when she’s shooting,’’ Norton said. “It packs a punch; if she hits you in the chest it knocks the wind out of you. If she gets over 80 mph I’d be willing to bet nobody else in Division I has achieved that mark. At least I haven’t heard of it.’’

Norton said Hurley’s shot not only is intimidating but can be psychologically devastating to opponents.

“In the women’s game it’s a gimme (that she has a great chance to score),’’ he said. “You can’t get from point A to point B in time. There’s a huge psychological advantage.’’

-- Jim Nasella