Club Women

February 11, 2009

Change Does UCSB's Moran Good

by Nathan Maciborski | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

After switching over from basketball, Katie Moran has found her sport. Now she's hoping to lift UCSB to the WDIA national championship.
© Country Club Photography

Katie Moran needed a change.

She had been playing basketball since she could walk, but for the first time, Moran wasn't in the starting lineup, and it just wasn't as fun. She went into her closet and dug out an old pair of cleats.

"That's it," she told her parents. "Tomorrow, I'm going out for lacrosse."

It was that bold decision made some eight years ago that has the University of California, Santa Barbara women's lacrosse team thinking national title this year.

The Gauchos came up just short in 2008, starting the season 20-0 before falling to Cal Poly in overtime, 11-10, in the US Lacrosse Women's Division Intercollegiate Associates (WDIA) tournament semifinals.

The Gauchos graduated three WDIA first-team All-Americans, including Defensive Player of the Year Kristyn Gherardi, so it will be up to Moran and her fellow captains, senior Selina Eadie and junior Maggie Aker, to get the newcomers up to speed.

"It was a challenging fall season because our other two captains were studying abroad," Moran said. "It was a totally different team dynamic. It wasn't just the older players initiating the younger players. It was kind of building an entirely new squad together."

Succeeding in the face of new challenges is second nature for Moran. For the first six years of her lacrosse-playing career, she played strictly defense - self-admittedly "terrified" of playing attack.

But prior to her junior season, Moran told UCSB coach Paul Ramsey that she wanted to be a more driving force on the offense. After practicing with the attack unit, Moran was ready to become the two-way midfielder she had envisioned. Her vision proved true. She earned first-team All-America honors.

"It was a totally fun switch, and I learned a lot of things," Moran said. "Offense looks a lot easier when you're back on defense just looking at it. To be honest, I still get butterflies in my stomach when I go over [the midfield line], but that's a good thing. It keeps me on my toes."

Standing 5-foot-10 and possessing quick footwork, Moran remains a formidable presence on defense. And her stick handling has improved dramatically in a short period of time. But Moran's success ultimately comes down to what Ramsey says is her best attribute: her competitiveness.

"The thing about Katie is she doesn't want to do anything but win," Ramsey said. "I know no athlete is going to say, ‘Oh, I don't care if we win or lose,' but with Katie, whether it's a fall scrimmage or nationals, she really means it."

"I kind of turn everything into a competition, and my friends absolutely hate me for it," Moran said. "Everything is a competition, from who makes the best dinner to who can make the fastest sprints to who can make a shot from 12-meter on the sideline. People always say that I turn everything into a contest, but I think that makes everything more fun on the field."

From a personal standpoint, Moran says she still has plenty of room for improvement, from being a better captain to scoring more left-handed goals. The Gauchos' team goal for 2009 is a simple one.

"This is the year we're winning a national championship," Moran said. "We drove that into the freshmen from Day One, and I know the seniors are feeling anxious, as well."

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