Team first mentality
by Matthew Ondesko: Owner
Photos: Geoff Schneider/Sports Union
On a team of scorers you always need that one player that will set up the rest of the team. You need a player who thinks about the team first, and do whatever it takes to get the job done.
Those players are tough to come by at times. Everyone wants to score goals. Everyone wants to be the main headline in the story. But, you need players that will do the dirty work. The work that doesn’t get noticed by the fans, or anyone that is watching.
In high school, Medaille University lacrosse player Sara Geiser was a goal scorer. That’s what she was asked to do when she transferred to Mount Mercy Academy during her sophomore year. She was asked to score goals for the team, and program, that has struggled over the years for consistency.
When Geiser took her talents to Medialle things changed. She wasn’t asked to score as much, but to be the one that set everyone up.
“Before I came to Medaille I was not a feeder. I was a midfielder whose main plan of attack was just getting in and scoring goals. I spent a lot of years being on teams with drive heavy offenses, so I had a lot of experience playing that way. When I stepped into that role in college, I had those skills from my previous years of playing under my belt and got to continue developing those skills, while working on becoming a feeder and playmaker,” stated Geiser. “Every game is different, some games you have defenses that pressure you out and you can create scoring opportunities by getting a step on them, and some defenses you can pick apart by utilizing cuts and feeds. Being able to be effective at doing both comes with a lot of pride. I love that I can be relied on in both instances to help my team get points and be successful.”
Geiser made a smooth transition from high school to college, which is pretty unusual for most when they take a step up in competition. Her freshman year, Geiser led the team in points (98) and assists (61). That’s pretty impressive, especially on the assist side.
She transformed herself from a scorer to a playmaker, in what was a pretty seamless transition. That just shows the type of person Geiser is. She could have easily balked at the idea of being someone who setup all the goals.
But, that isn’t the type of person she is. Geiser is all about the team, and what is best for the tram to win games.
“For me, lacrosse has always been a team sport. It doesn’t matter who is getting all the stats. You win as a team, and you lose as a team,” stated Geiser. “If I know that I can give my team a better scoring opportunity by feeding a ball then taking it to the net on my own, for me it’s a no-brainer. Being selfless really isn’t something that I think about either, I have just always focused on giving the offense the best chance to score goals and I’ve been incredibly lucky to be able to do so.”
It also helps that Geiser doesn’t have to do it all by herself. Medaille boast some great goal scorers, which makes Geiser job that much easier. She knows she can still take it hard to the next if she needs to, she has 18 goals on the season.
But, when you boast attackers like Cameron Briggs, Katelynn Deveans and Kara Anderson, it makes her job that much easier. Others teams can’t guard all three, so all Geiser has to do is find the right teammate at the right time.
“It makes my job so much easier to be able to rely on so many dynamic scorers. Each one of our offensive players are incredibly talented. You have girls like Kara Anderson who have this amazing shot that can be fired from pretty much anywhere, and girls like Cameron Briggs and Katelynn Deveans who just have this ability to cut well and catch feeds in pressure to score goals so quickly,” explained Geiser. “As a feeder you have to be able to trust that the people you pass the ball to are going to catch it, and on the other side of it they have to know that they are going to catch it. We all have really good chemistry; I trust them, and they trust me, so we have become such a strong offense because of our ability to work with each other.”
It also has been a transition of growth for Geiser through her years at Medaille. While she is a junior, Geiser will be graduating early and starting her post lacrosse career. It’s a little bitter sweet.
Of course Geiser will miss the game, It’s something that she has been doing since she was a little girl, but she is also excited to see what life has to bring. Graduating early allows her to see what else is out there.
“Since i’m graduating a semester early this season will be my last as a lacrosse player, but I have looked into training people in the area to continue contributing to lacrosse here in Buffalo,” stated Geiser. “ Although I am beyond sad to say goodbye to the sport I grew up with, I really can’t thank my team enough for giving me something that is so hard to say goodbye to.”
Her time at Medaille was one of growth. There she learned how to step out of her comfort zone on the lacrosse field. She also learned how to be a leader. Growing into a leadership role on the team is something that Geiser was proud of.
She never took that role for grant it, either. Medaille had such a young team this year that Geiser knew the younger players would look up to her for guidance. Just not about the game of lacrosse, but also what college life is like - juggling academics with the athletics side.
“Being a leader is never an easy task. With a team as young as ours it was always a priority of mine to make sure everyone was good mentally, but also to push them to be better. Lacrosse is just as much of a mental sport as it is a physical sport and I have had countless conversations with girls on my team outside of the field and on the field about so many different things,” stated Geiser. “I’m always there to tell them to get out of their heads and do the things they know how to do and give them the reminder that their off days do not make them any less of a player. My main goal was to always be someone the girls on my team could talk to and be someone they could not just look up to as a player, but as a person.”
Once things that Geiser never did was change the type of person she was. No matter how much responsibility she was given, Geiser also stayed the same person. She has also been that same person that would push people to be their very best. And, she has alway been someone that would look out for everyone else.
“I really can’t say that I have changed much as a person while stepping into a bigger role as I have always been the person who looks out for others and pushes people to be their best. However, I can say that being in college and playing lacrosse shaped me into being able to be an effective leader,” stated Geiser. “Since I’m an upperclassman on a young team, I really just focused on telling the girls the things that I needed to hear when I was at that time in my life. College is a hard enough experience as is, you’re figuring out who you are and what you want to do with your life. I wanted to be the person that I needed when I was in their position and tell them the things that I needed to hear then too.”
Even with everything going on around her, Geiser still makes sure she takes time out for herself. Mental health is a hot topic between athletes these days, and ever hotter topic when it comes to the student-athletes.
Geiser knows how important it is to have a good balance between school, lacrosse and everything else that goes on in a college persons life.
“Good mental health is hard enough, maintaining good mental health while being a student athlete is even harder. I have always been my biggest critic, the first time and only time I ever got a B I thought my academic career was over. I really had to learn that just because i’m in this category of being an athlete and a student, doesn’t mean that I can’t make mistakes, making mistakes just means you’re human,” stated Geiser. “It also meant that I was allowed to take time for myself. It’s okay to say no to social events if you have things to do, but it’s also okay to say yes. I realized that I can study for an hour and go hang out with my friends, instead of saying no and studying all night. I surrounded myself with people that supported me enough to understand when I had to miss out on things for school or lacrosse, but loved me enough tell me that I needed a break.”