Justin Pirigyi’s extraordinary reach and quickness in getting to the ball in goal for La Jolla Country Day School led to four shutouts by the Torreys in a span of five games early in the season.
“(Justin) has grown incredibly from a freshman, when he was clumsy and kind of uncoordinated, to where he is now,” says LJCDS assistant coach Jocsan Leyva, who has worked intensely with the senior over the last four years. “His reach is incredible,” Leyva says, repeating his favorite adjective for Pirigyi, “especially in the upper corners (of the net, hard to get to).”
“The clean sheets (shutouts) speak for themselves,” asserts the seven-year assistant.
The 17-year-old keeper is, by nature, a quiet person, according to his head coach, Jerry Fleischhacker, so for Justin to extend himself by becoming vocal in goal to coordinate with the defenders in front of him has been quite a process of growth. “You want the goalie to be a leader on the field and off it,” says Fleischhacker. “Being a quiet guy is unusual for a goalie.”
Another area in which Pirigyi excels, according to Leyva, is his ability to defend against a low shot. “He’s so tall (6-feet 3-inches), but he can get down so quick,” says the coach. “I’m tall, but there’s no way I can move that fast.”
The wiry (168-pound) goalie is quick to center the conversation on the Torreys as a whole and his teammates, “the best team here since I’ve been in high school,” he says. Jesus Labra, a midfielder, Blake Khaleghi, at left back, and Rodrigo Duran, the stopper, are partners in crime on the LJCDS defense. “We went as far as we did, to the first round of the playoffs, last year largely on our defense,” Pirigyi says.
“We graduated four or five seniors last year, and there has been a big freshman class this season,” the keeper says. “Andrew Mitchell, our striker, is filling some of our need for more goals. He has a super good shot, he’s pretty big, and he’s good in the air. He’s a big presence, which is really good for us.”
Another freshman, Alex Glynn, holds down the sweeper spot, between Duran at stopper and the goalie. “He brings a lot of effort, a lot of heart. He’ll put his body in front of any ball. And he’s a good listener: he’ll listen to teammates. He doesn’t fly off and do unpredictable things.”
The 10 seniors, including captains Grant Miller, Labra, Duran, Khaleghi, and Pirigyi, provide leadership and strength.
Only talking about his own game when asked about it, Justin sees his strengths as a keeper in stopping shots, “I’ve gotten a lot better,” and “playing off my line.” On the latter, he explains that he doesn’t remain in a fixed position, but when needed, he will venture out to stop a ball away from the goal.
Pirigyi credits his head coach, Fleischhacker, in his 28th year at the helm, with supporting him since he was a freshman.
by Ed Piper