Ultimate Frisbee is not something you often see on a college athlete’s resume.
But it’s one of several sports Loryn Porter participated during high school in Ontario. She also competed in soccer, cross country and track and field, the latter as a distance runner, then a hurdler.
That diverse sports background was important in her development. This winter, the University of Maine senior has emerged as one of the top hockey goaltenders in the nation.
“It all helped me become a better goalie,” said Porter, who is one of eight finalists for the first-ever women’s Division I Goaltender of the Year Award.
The 5-foot-8 native of North Bay, Ontario, takes the country’s second-best save percentage (.954) and fifth lowest goals-against average (1.52) into Wednesday’s 7 p.m. Hockey East semifinal against Providence in Rhode Island.
Fifth-seeded UMaine (8-8-1) split a December series with No. 3 seed Providence (11-6-1), losing 4-0 and winning 2-1.
Porter made 33 saves in the Black Bears’ 3-1 quarterfinal victory at Vermont on Sunday. It was the 11th time in 17 games that she has held an opponent to one goal or fewer.
Porter has allowed only 10 goals in her last eight games while making 236 saves.
“She was fantastic. As expected,” Vermont coach Jim Plumer said.
Porter was named a second-team All-Hockey East selection in her first season as a starter. She appeared in 21 games while backing up Carly Jackson the previous three winters.
“I’m just grateful we’re able to play. We’re trying to make the most of the opportunity we’ve had,” she said of COVID-19 challenges. “We have battled every game and, luckily, things have turned out pretty well for me so far.”
Looking back, Porter said playing Ultimate Frisbee in high school helped her hand-eye coordination and, like soccer, featured short bursts of running. Track and cross country were advantageous from a conditioning and fitness standpoint.
One huge challenge this season for UMaine has been playing every game on the road. The state’s indoor gathering limit of 50 people makes it impossible to stage a game at Alfond Arena in Orono.
“I’m so proud of what we’ve done so far with so many games on the road,” Porter said.
“But we have embraced the Road Warrior mentality. We love the challenge of playing every game on the road,” she said. “We work hard on and off the ice so when it comes game time, we like to show what we’re made of.”
Porter said one valuable lesson she has learned during her time at UMaine is how to maintain her poise even in the most stressful situations.
“We’ve had some one-goal games. And the last couple of years have prepared me for it,” she said.
UMaine is 5-5-1 this season in games decided by a single goal.
“Loryn has been special, consistently,” UMaine head coach Richard Reichenbach said. “Without the experience of being a starter [previously] has made it more impressive.
“She has been able to turn out elite performances no matter who we’re playing or how they are creating offense,” he added.
That is borne out in three losses to top-ranked Northeastern, during which Porter has made 135 saves on 142 shots, a .951 save percentage.
“She is a strong athlete so when she does have to make that purely reaction save, she can. It is a unique combination,” Reichenbach said.
The good news for the Black Bears is that Porter plans to take advantage of the NCAA’s blanket eligibility waiver for 2020-21 to play another season while she pursues a master’s degree.
“I’m excited to come back,” she said.
Sophomore right wing Ida Kuoppala is UMaine’s other All-Hockey East choice. She has scored 10 goals in 15 games while providing five assists.
Providence features three all-league picks in center Sara Hjalmarsson (5 goals, 12 assists), Lauren DeBlois (4 & 3), a defenseman from Lewiston, and goalie Sandra Abstreiter (11-6-1, 2.00 GAA, .925 save percentage).