Spring Sports Preview: Defying The Freshman Experience
Published: Thursday, March 15, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
There’s supposed to be a learning curve. No matter how highly-touted they are or how much they dominated in high school, freshmen don’t typically dominate as soon as they set foot on campus. It often takes them time to adapt to the college game, find their place on the team, and adjust to a new style of play than what they are used to, no matter what the sport.
Mikaela Rix and Covie Stanwick are not the typical freshmen, however. In fact, from the moment they arrived at Boston College, they may have been the two best players for the women’s lacrosse team.
Stanwick and Rix entered BC with a world of pressure on them. As the number two and three recruits respectively, they were expected to not only find their place on the team, but to make an impact as the season went on. As leaders of one of the best freshman classes in the nation, Stanwick and Rix had the spotlight directly on them from the word go. Stanwick, an attacker, shattered the scoring record at Notre Dame Prep, where she started on the varsity team for four years. Rix, a midfielder, lead Garden City High School to four straight New York State Championships. Both were members of the U.S. Under-19 Team that won the gold medal in the 2011 FIL World Championship and both were All-Americans. Despite the lofty expectations for both the team and the two girls individually, Stanwick and Rix never let the hype distract them and made it a point to stay focused on the season.
“I definitely don’t think about that at all,” Stanwick said. “I know that we’ve come in with a strong class and I recognize every day that we have great kids in our class, but I never think ‘Oh we’re the fifth or sixth class in the country.’ I don’t think about that at all. I don’t even think about our ranking in general because we’re focused on each game and taking each opponent as they come.”
Rix echoed Stanwick’s sentiment, stressing that the team is what is important, and not justifying a high rank in recruiting.
“I came here for a purpose, and right now I want to win and I want to play,” Rix said. “I want to work as hard as I can every day to get myself better and the team better. As long as the team is playing well together, I don’t really care how I’m doing personally. If we keep winning games, that’s the ultimate goal.”
After six games, it’s hard to say they haven’t made an impression. Rix is leading the team in points with 27 and in goals with 25. She has accounted for a remarkable 25 percent of her team’s goals and is shooting an impressive 45 percent. Right behind her is Stanwick, who is second on the team in points and goals while leading the way in assists. Stanwick also boasts a remarkable 58 percent shooting percentage and a still more incredible 78 percent shooting percentage on shots on goal. The two have combined for 41 of the team’s 100 goals, making this year’s attack one of the most formidable in recent memory. This unexpected success has caught even Rix off guard, and she attributes much of what she has been able to do to the seniors and veterans on the team.
“Personally, I’m pleasantly surprised by how I’ve been playing,” Rix said. “It’s really great to get to play with the girls who are seniors here. They’re all so awesome, and I love playing with them. For me, getting to play with them and learn from them has really been so special so far this season.”
The truly surprising part of this early season dominance has been that Rix and Stanwick have never once looked like freshmen. From the start, they have played like experienced upperclassmen themselves, and not like first-year players who need time to adjust. The result has been a 4-3 record and a No. 12 ranking that has the rest of the ACC and the nation on notice. It hasn’t all been easy, however, as both players admit to some difficulties in getting used to the college game.
“The college game is so much faster-paced than in high school,” Rix said. “In high school, you could literally just get the ball and run it down but now there’s people that can really stop you. One of the biggest things is the draw. It’s so much different from high school. There’s so much strategy on the draw in winning it.”
Stanwick also mentioned having some initial difficulties in the new style of play, but brought up the issue of recent international play that helped both her and Rix prepare for the college level.
“It’s been a little difficult, but I think playing internationally this summer in the World Cup definitely helped,” Stanwick said. “The game’s a lot more physical than high school, so that was a good little preview of college lacrosse. It’s definitely a transition. I’d say the biggest thing is how much more physical and fast-paced the game is. But I think that our coaches and our seniors just give you a good idea of what’s going to happen on the field, and we try to emulate that in practice and just get ready for the games.”
With the obvious talent on the field so easy to notice, the character that both girls show off the field may be easy to miss. But both Stanwick and Rix are just as concerned with growing as a team as they are with becoming better players. Stanwick in particular made sure to show that her main goal was to make an impact and help the team in any way she could.
“As a freshman coming in, I just wanted to make the biggest impact I could,” Stanwick said. “Whether that was on the field or on the bench, it really doesn’t matter. I just wanted to be part of the team and just help in any way I can to make us win. I know that in doing that, I worked as hard as I could to make my teammates better, get myself better, and make the team better. And that’s the main goal every day, to make myself better and the team better as well.”
With just six games behind them and a number of daunting ACC opponents still remaining on their schedule, the Eagles find themselves with a real chance at the NCAA Tournament this season. There have already been some early-season struggles, but Rix and Stanwick are convinced that the team has turned a corner.