December 28, 2010

This article appears in the January issue of Lacrosse Magazine, which mails to US Lacrosse members this week. Don't get the mag? Join USL and its 300,000-plus members today to start your subscription.

Petersen Rediscovers Love of Lacrosse

by Paul Ohanian | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Claire Petersen dropped lacrosse when she pursued hoop dreams at Division III Catholic, but she has enjoyed a renaissance at Division II Adelphi.

© John Strohsacker/

Coming off a monster 2010 campaign in which she led the nation in scoring with 128 points, Adelphi's Claire Petersen has been tabbed as Lacrosse Magazine's 2011 Preseason Player of the Year. Not bad for somebody who wasn't even playing the sport two seasons ago.

A 2008 graduate of Wantagh (N.Y.) High School, the two-sport standout chose to attend Division III Catholic University. While participating in Catholic's fall-ball program as a freshman, Petersen also began playing in pick-up basketball games with friends. That's when she decided she wasn't ready to put her hoop dreams away quite yet.

Petersen made the varsity team as a walk-on and played sparingly in five games for the Cardinals that season. By the time basketball season ended, she had made another decision. She didn't want to play lacrosse.

As the spring progressed however, she began to miss the game. It was during this same time that Petersen, who entered college as a general studies major, also decided she wanted to major in physical education. Since Catholic did not offer that major, a change of scenery was needed.

"I knew I wanted to play lacrosse again, so I e-mailed Coach (Joe) Spallina during the summer," Petersen said. "He was familiar with me from my high school days."

With Adelphi having just captured the 2009 national championship and still featuring a roster stocked with talent, Petersen began practice that fall just hoping to secure a little playing time. The fact that she progressed from an unsure newcomer to the nation's leading scorer in the span of seven months is a testament to her work ethic and commitment.

"I just came in, worked hard and listened to everything Coach said," said Petersen, who also moved from midfield to attack. "I improved a lot. He made me a better and smarter player."

Fueled by Spallina's "play outside the box" philosophy and her better understanding of how to attack a defense, Petersen posted mind-numbing numbers. She recorded 10 points or more five times, including a career-best 12 points (5g, 7a) against St. Anselm. She finished the year with 47 goals and 81 assists as Adelphi rolled to a second straight NCAA championship.

"She just got better and better and better," Spallina said.

As the season ended, the awards began rolling in. Northeast-10 Conference Player of the Year, NE-10 first-team all-conference, IWLCA first-team All-American, IWLCA Attacker of the Year, and ECAC Division II Offensive Player of the Year.

"She's going to be even better this year," Spallina said. "She's just starting to realize her ability."

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