July 1, 2009

Back on the Homefront: Redemption for Falcone

by Paul Ohanian, Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Less than a month after her UNC team lost in the NCAA final, Amber Falcone was named the Best Defender in helping Team USA win the World Cup.

© Pellerins Photography

BALTIMORE - It’s been quite a lacrosse whirlwind for Amber Falcone over the past several weeks.

For starters, Falcone capped her All-American collegiate career in May by helping to lead North Carolina to its first appearance in the NCAA championship game.  Two days later, she was in Washington, D.C. as one of five finalists for the presentation of the Tewaaraton Trophy (awarded to Hannah Nielsen of Northwestern).

A little more than a week later, she joined her Team USA teammates in Baltimore for the start of training camp for the World Cup. Then it was off the Prague for the start of the tournament and 10 days of international competition.

“It’s been an amazing experience,” Falcone said on Wednesday as she and head coach Sue Heether and teammate Caitlyn McFadden met the media at US Lacrosse headquarters.

The non-stop schedule forced Falcone to keep her focus on each task, with little time for reflection. Now that the whirlwind is finally winding down – the gold-medal winning Americans returned to the States earlier this week – her emotions are starting to perk up.

“I didn’t have time to be emotional, but now it’s starting to sink in a bit,” said Falcone.

Twice in the last month, she has had to leave behind teammates with whom she has grown very close. Due to her commitments, she didn’t have a chance to spend much time with the other Carolina players after their disappointing 21-7 loss to Northwestern in the NCAA final.

“I was the first one to leave Chapel Hill,” she explained. “It was hard to separate and say good bye.”

On the positive side however, playing in the World Cup provided Falcone with a chance to script a different ending to her playing season.

“We had a great run at Carolina and paved the way for the future, but that wasn’t a pretty loss,” said the senior team captain from Westminster, Md. “I was excited to get back on the field.”

And Falcone took full advantage of her opportunity for some personal redemption during the World Cup.

The Americans finished 7-0 in the tournament, including a pair of victories over defending champion Australia. In both of those games, Falcone – one of just three defenders on the U.S. roster – drew the assignment against two-time Tewaaraton winner Nielsen.

“We’re actually great friends, but we go at it on the field,” Falcone said. “It was nice to get one up on her after the NCAA final.”

Falcone played so well in helping the Americans capture the championship, she was tabbed as one of 12 players on the All-World team. She was also named winner of the event’s Best Defender award.

“It was a huge honor and I’m very proud,” Falcone said. “It’s hard to take credit because I was part of a great defense.”

As one of the youngest members of this year’s U.S. team, Falcone was admittedly a bit uncertain about her role prior to the start of the games. The successful World Cup experience may have now set the path for her future. She plans on remaining in the national team program and returning to defend the trophy four years from now.

“I was unsure if I would come back, but the feeling of doing something only a select few can do really motivates me,” she said. “There’s lots of hard work involved, but it’s great to win for the U.S.”

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