Twelve months after the Lee girls lacrosse team won its first-ever Western Massachusetts tournament game, the Wildcats were one-and done in 2013. Just don’t tell Mariah McKenna the season wasn’t a success.
"We were seeded much higher this year," said the 2013 All-Eagle girls lacrosse most valuable player. "That was like winning something. They had heard of us this year."
The senior midfielder, a three-sport athlete at Lee, did a lot for the Wildcats. She scored 40 goals, had 25 assists and took most of the Wildcats’ face offs.
"Mariah had a higher level of intensity," said Lee coach Dave Galisa. "If the ball was on the ground, nobody else was going to get it and beat her."
McKenna took up lacrosse in the seventh grade and she said she took to it immediately.
"I love playing on the field. It’s really important to me," she said. "[Lacrosse] merges soccer and basketball together."
Those are McKenna’s other sports at Lee.
The Wildcat head coach said that while the skill sets of soccer and basketball don’t translate directly to lacrosse, he said that playing basketball and soccer helped her with her vision on the field and that she could see things more quickly.
With Mariah "you can point to this and say ‘See, that’s what you should be doing," said Galisa, who often used McKenna as a coaching tool.
"I taped three-quarters of our games. You can believe there were some people watching what Mariah did," he said. "That’s what I want them to develop into."
McKenna’s development as a lacrosse player actually began in a Berkshire County community that wasn’t Lee. She first picked up a stick in Dalton.
"She started at the Dalton CRA. They had some clinics and I helped out," Galisa said. "I remember Mariah especially at some of the practices. She would be the player to take one or two extra [repetitions].
"She developed a real love for the sport."
McKenna and the Wildcats went into their second season as varsity lacrosse players with a better understanding what it took to play and win than they had going into 2012.
"It was definitely a little different," she said. "It was also a rebuilding year. We did lose a lot of people, but we got a lot of new people. That’s the great thing about lacrosse, it’s so easy to pick up."
McKenna is going to go to Connecticut College in New London, Conn., this fall. She has plans to play soccer and lacrosse.
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