March 11, 2010

Pigott Ready to Speak Up for Ducks

by Jac Coyne | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff | Coyne Archive | Twitter

She's always been a loud presence with her goal-scoring ability, but this year Alyssa Pigott has added a vocal leadership component to her game. The Ducks are hoping that will be a factor in earning a berth in the NCAA tourney.
© Pete Marney

She’s got the scoring ability, that knack for finding the net when it looks completely covered. She has that certain something – some call it ‘craftiness’ – that allows her to find a seam, avoid the check, and deliver the goal. And the vision; it’s so good that teammates always have to keep their head up.

Alyssa Pigott pretty much provided everything the Stevens coaching staff was hoping she would since her arrival on the New Jersey campus in the fall of 2006.

There was only one little issue.

“We couldn’t get her to talk for the first three years,” said Stevens coach Celine Cunningham. “She was somebody who we wanted to run our attack from the get-go, so that was our biggest challenge: to get her to demand more of herself and her teammates. She was just so quiet.”

Actually, Pigott is hardly the mousey introvert or perpetual wall flower. She just tends to be more reserved when she’s not completely familiar with those around her.

“I’m really not that quiet, it just takes me a while to get to know people and then I’m more open,” said Pigott. “My family wouldn’t say that I’m quiet.”

In her first three years with the Ducks, Pigott’s numbers were anything but muted.

In her initial collegiate season after starring at Northern Burlington (N.J.) High School, she posted 53 goals for Stevens. She followed that with 67 markers in ’08 and another 73 last spring. The Class of ’10, headed by Pigott, has been a huge reason Stevens went from a 4-11 record in 2006 to 12-8, 15-3 and finally to last year’s 16-2 mark.

While she was the alpha female on the field, she still wasn’t ready to take vocal command of the team. Part of it was out of deference to the upperclassmen, but there was an underlying awkwardness with that role.

All of that changed over this past summer when Pigott worked with the local Boy’s and Girl’s Club. Tasked with motivating youngsters to do their assignments and follow her lead, Pigott was able to see how her leadership ability could make a difference.

“I’ve always thought that people wouldn’t really benefit from what I had to say, but watching those kids actually listen to what I said and try harder, it definitely translated to my confidence level,” said Pigott.

“She really took charge of that,” said Cunningham of the Boy’s and Girl’s Club experience. “She made sure the kids were doing their homework and I think it gave her the opportunity to be a little more boisterous.”

With a comfort level that comes with being a senior combined with her summer evolution, Pigott had a whole different attitude for the Ducks heading into this season.

“We’ve created a tight-knit group and they know I’m not quiet now,” said Pigott.

“We had the captains talk about why they wanted to be captains, and she said, ‘I’ll pretty much do anything for this team because they are the most important group for me. I want to lead this team and I want to be a part of our best year yet.’ I think she was finally able to articulate herself after three years in the program.”

The Ducks will need every bit of Pigott’s leadership if they want to achieve their goal of making the NCAA tournament. After last year’s near miss – primarily brought about by a devastating loss in the Empire 8 semifinals to St. John Fisher - Cunningham has stacked her schedule to improve Stevens’ bubble chances if it comes to that.

After dispatching Montclair State in the first game of the season, Stevens entertained then-No. 8 Union on Saturday. With the teams locked in a 10-all tie in the sudden-death second overtime period, Pigott raised her voice and demanded the ball in transition. Seconds later, the ball was in the net – the 200th goal of her career – and the Ducks had the signature win they so desperately craved last year.

And with the outcome, Pigott officially learned the lesson her coach has been trying to teach her for the past three years.

“I like to be in charge,” said Pigott. “I guess it’s just easier to be loud and in charge.”

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