For several seasons now, the University of Cincinnati women’s lacrosse team has been on an upward trajectory.
After completing its 12th season of existence with the program’s first-ever winning record this year (12-7 overall), the sense of excitement surrounding the NCAA Division I program is at a record high.
Former Red Lion High School standout Alyssa Adams is among those most responsible for helping to create that enthusiasm.
Adams, a 2016 and 2017 York-Adams League all-star for the Lions, played a big part in helping the Bearcats earn a berth in the American Athletic Conference Tournament final against Florida this past weekend.
While her team fell in the AAC title contest to the Gators, there was little doubt that this past season was still a big success for Cincinnati.
“I just like 'where are we going?'” Adams said after finishing third on the team in goals with 36. “Before my (sophomore) class came here, there was no winning season. And we had our best season (8-9) ever last year, but for this year, to have a winning season, is just awesome.”
Motivating loss: Sometimes the greatest motivator in sports is getting close to achieving a goal, only to fall short. That is definitely the case for Adams and her teammates, who played well, but came up short in a 15-9 setback against Florida Saturday. Only a week before the title game, the Gators cruised to 25-6 triumph over Adams and the Bearcats in the regular-season finale.
“We were so close,” she said. “We just had to win one more game and we fell short. So I know that we were so close to it that we could see it. Literally the (AAC) trophy was right in front of us, and I know that is going to motivate everyone next year. We’re going to take that next step because we were so close.”
The Bearcats will lose only four starters to graduation. Leading scorer Monica Borzillo, who set the school record with 61 goals this season, will return, along with Adams and other key players.
The sense of optimism is strong.
“We’re a pretty young team,” Adams said. “We should be pretty good.”
Big season for Adams: There’s no question that Adams personally took a big step forward as a sophomore. Of her 36 goals this season, two were game-winners. In addition, she was named the AAC Midfielder of the Week back in February after scoring five goals in a 22-18 victory over Marquette.
Personal goals, however, are secondary for Adams. Instead, she's completely all-in with helping her team win games, without worrying about stats.
“I feel that when you score a goal, you get all the glory,” she said. “But you probably didn’t do all of what it takes to be in the position yourself. One of your teammates probably won the draw or your goalie made a good save or your defender maybe caused a turnover.”
A valued skill that Adams has long possessed is the ability to win draw controls. Adams briefly held the Y-A League record for draw controls (more than 140) that she set in her senior season at Red Lion before Kennard-Dale and UMBC recruit Megan Halczuk broke it recently.
“It’s such an over-looked part of the game,” Adams said. “But usually if you are winning the game it’s because you're winning the draw controls as well. In high school I took the draw a lot, but now that I got to UC I’m more of a circle player. My good friend Sam Milkvy is our draw specialist. She’ll take the draw and get it to me and I like try to catch it or try to run after it.”
Looking to improve: Adams plans to improve her game over the summer with specialized training programs and running that are encouraged by the team’s coaches. She also plans to play a few games in an adult league at Spooky Nook thanks to an invite from her former Red Lion coach.
“That should be fun,” Adams said. “Just another chance to keep my stick in my hand. Then there’s running and following the workout packet they gave us so when I get to the fall I can start out on a good note.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.