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McCaslin takes the next step

by Matthew Ondesko: Managing Editor

Photos: Geoff Schneider: Sports Union

After struggling her freshman year, Bri McCaslin wanted to prove to herself that she could play at the highest level. Unlike other school’s Mt. Mercy Academy doesn’t have a junior varsity program.

So, most underclassmen, get their reps with the varsity team. There are growing pains at first, but those who can survive their first year have a great chance of improving over time.

McCaslin was one of those who saw her game jump to the next level. The sophomore had 33 goals and garnered first team All-Catholic for her great season.

“As a sophomore, getting first team all catholic this year means a lot to me. It was my goal of mine to hold myself up to that standard and be on the same level as the girls who I looked up to and made that list. It's an honor to be included with the other girls who also made that team and to be named on that team with the girls that made it in the past. It will continue to be a goal of mine each year to be placed on that list,” explained McCaslin. “This year was definitely a much improved year with all of my points. I think all of my teammates came back better players with a better mindset and that really contributed to my success on the field.”

McCaslin’s jump in her game coincided with Mt. Mercy getting a new coach. Abbie Lelito was hired just days before spring camp started. She was tasked with trying to get her message across to a bunch of girls who weren’t used to winning.

Lelito has brought a lot of knowledge to the lacrosse program is just a short time. She was a standout at West Seneca West High School before going on to play Division I lacrosse at Akron. Her coaching style has definitely rubbed off on McCaslin, who has soaked in everything coach Abbie has had to say.

“My new coach this year Abbie has definitely made me an all around better player. The energy and knowledge she brings to our team is just what we needed,” stated McCaslin. “She has changed the mindset of our team, while teaching us so much on and off of the field. She has been the best coach I've ever been coached by and I really appreciate all she has done. Our future is bright with her and I'm so happy I get to experience it.”

McCaslin has also taken more of a leadership role on the team. It’s not often a sophomore is tasked to leading a team, but McCaslin is doing just that. It hasn’t been easy at times for moccasin, but she has other people to lead on for guidance.

One of those has been Rosie Bandura. Bandura, a Division I soccer commit, has been someone that McCaslin can look up to. She has seen how Bandura has gone about her business on, and off, the lacrosse and soccer fields.

“Taking on this leadership role has not been the easiest being on the younger side of the team but was a role me Bridget and Rosie, the other two captains had to fill. Freshman lacrosse season and soccer season I had both great role models and captains to show me what I wanted to be, and I felt I needed to be a girl my other teammates could look up to,” stated McCaslin. “Growing into a leader I take away from my older teammates that I should stay positive till the end because it's not over until it's over. One player, especially Rosie, has been such a positive light on any team I've played on and really shown me what a leader is supposed to be.”

As the season went on, McCaslin was getting the attention of other teams more and more. In the beginning of the year, McCaslin could pretty much do what she wanted, but that was starting to come to an end.

As the double teams were coming at a fast pace, it would have been easy for McCaslin to get frustrated. But drawing the double team helped the rest of her teammates get open. If the other defender slid down that would free up Bandura or Bella Scarcello to take the shot.

Coach Abbie wanted to make sure she just kept playing in the offense, and promised her good things would happen.

“Trying not to get frustrated was sometimes very hard especially when starting the game off I would already be doubled and put more pressure on,” stated McCaslin. “Coach Abbie helped me stay in check and stay positive when those goals were not coming as easy and reminded me that anything can change in a game if we worked together as a team.”

Now that the high school season is over, McCaslin is focused on her club summer with Empress Lacrosse. This is big summer for McCaslin as she gets ready for her junior year. Empress will embark on a summer of tournaments that will feature a lot of college coaches looking on.

It also allows her to play with, and against, some of the best platers in the country. It gives McCaslin a chance to work on certain aspects of her game, and improve on what she needs to improve on.

“This summer I'm looking to improve in any way that I can and be the best player I can be. It is important for me to play with and against the best players in the country because it forces me to be on top of my game in order to be able to compete with and against these other athletes,” stated McCaslin. “The next big jump for me is going to be this summer. We have practiced all year for these tournaments and I need to be performing at my best in front of hundreds of college coaches. I believe if I stay consistent and remember what my coaches have taught me I will have a successful summer.”

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