January 3, 2011

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LaDuca First in Line in Monroe's Title Defense

by Brian Delaney | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

Monroe Community College midfielder Danielle LaDuca says she would like to transfer to a four-year college program in the South after this sophomore season with the Tribunes.

© Greg Wall

Danielle LaDuca recalled a moment in a high school lacrosse game at Webster-Thomas, near Rochester N.Y., that cemented what LaDuca long thought she knew: she wanted to play college lacrosse, and fast.

"The umpires were calling the girliest calls, and I was like, 'I can't wait to play college,'" LaDuca said. "That's when I knew I couldn't wait to get here."

Wanting to stay close to home, she chose Monroe Community College. The move worked out just fine last spring, when the Tribunes won the NJCAA championship. LaDuca, a midfielder, was instrumental to the 15-3 season, including the 8-7 title-game victory over Onondaga.

With about five minutes remaining, Monroe was leading by a goal when LaDuca checked the ball away from Onondaga standout Lauren Welch to give the Tribunes the ball back.

"Welch was a player we had a real tough time stopping," Monroe coach Craig Chamberlain said. "It was a major turnover on their part, when they had possession at that point. That was huge."

That's what LaDuca provides: big plays. Offense, defense and, in particular, 50-50 situations. She's that rare player who'd rather come up with a big defensive stop than score a winning goal. But judged by her 37 goals and 20 assists a season ago, she was no slouch with the ball in her stick. LaDuca is Lacrosse Magazine's Preseason Player of the Year.

"She wins battles," Chamberlain said. "Individual battles. If the ball's on the ground, loose in the air, she's going to win it. That's the best thing I can say about her."

Tough as nails, she's brought the competitive nature cultivated by growing up with two active older brothers, Nick and Ryan — wrestlers and football players, both — to the college game.

She is considering moving on to a southern program at the Division I, II or even club level. In just a year, she's learned how much she enjoys the fruit of her labors. She compared winning a championship to "eating a Snickers for the first time, or having your first Ben & Jerry's ice cream." She also expects Monroe to contend again.

"We have a very, very big title to protect, and I think we'll do a very good job of protecting it," she said.

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