Lawrence High's soccer opponents can rarely say, 'He shoots, he scores' when Orion Creamer defends the Lions' goal.
Since receiving his first start in the third game of his sophomore season, Creamer has been mainstay in the Lions' lineup. He has started 46 consecutive games at goalkeeper heading into today's match with Leavenworth at YSI, Lawrence's final home outing of the season.
The Lions are 25-16-5 in that span. In the six years before Creamer arrived, Lawrence was 26-70-9. LHS head coach Mark Craig believes Creamer has been a big reason for the turnaround.
"He is totally confident and fearless," Craig said. "The opposing coaches comment about his aggressive style. I don't think there's anybody better in defending the one-on-one breakaway situation than Orion. He has extremely quick reflexes. He does a good job distributing the ball at the players' feet."
When Creamer took over as goalkeeper, some seniors tried to talk him into playing with a feather on the back of the goal. They said it was superstitious and would prevent the other team from scoring. Creamer didn't put much stock into that.
Instead, he relies on his orange socks and orange shorts.
"You have to be a little crazy to play this position and be willing to take a few shots," said Creamer, who throws left-handed and kicks left-footed.
Creamer's brother, Ross, is a sophomore stopper-sweeper for the Lions. Craig relies heavily on both to anchor the defense.
Orion, selected to the Northeastern Kansas Soccer Coaches Academic team, has played soccer since he was six. The sport has become a year-around activity for him. He plays club soccer with college players in the spring.
"You have to play year around if you want to keep your skills," he said. "I like playing with people a lot better so you have to raise your game to a new level."
Creamer possessed all the traits Craig was looking for when he took over the program in 1992. Craig used two senior goalkeepers in the first two games of his inaugural season as the Lions lost on both occasions.
Craig decided then to call Creamer from the junior varsity team and develop the sophomore for the next three years. The early promotion paid off.
Craig estimates Creamer has 800 saves in two-plus seasons. Opponents have scored 78 goals in 46 games (1.7 a contest) against him. Creamer has 10 shutouts in his high school career, including three this season.
Creamer's first varsity start was against Lee's Summit, Mo., ranked among the top five teams in Kansas City at the time, and Lawrence won, 3-1.
"It was kind of a surprise," Creamer said of his first start. "I wasn't much over 100 pounds and I was real nervous."
Creamer now is listed at 5-11 and 150 pounds. His entire body receives the brunt of shots on goal.
"His body has taken a beating," Craig said. "He always comes in and plays in pain. He thrives on the big games. He knows when we play against a great team, it's pretty much do or die on his part."