October 11, 2010

Team USA Rookie Igoe Faces BC Teammates, Hopes to Stick Around

by Dan Hickling | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

Team USA attacker Sarah Albrecht splits a pair of Harvard defenders Saturday in a US Lacrosse Stars and Stripes Weekend exhibition. Albrecht was an assistant coach for the Crimson for four seasons before leaving in the offseason to become associate head coach at UMass.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Kristin Igoe confessed to having a few butterflies dodging and weaving through her gut in the days leading up to the annual US Lacrosse Stars and Stripes Weekend at Harvard University.

Yes, the events were taking place less than an hour away from her Framingham, Mass., stomping grounds.

And yes, the newly named U.S. women's national team member was bound to meet up with her teammates from Boston College somewhere along the way.

More pressing to her, however, was the need to make a good first impression on the rest of the national team members during two days of scrimmages against high-caliber college teams.

“I was nervous, just coming in,” Igoe said. “It's my first year on the team, and I wanted to make sure my level of play was the same as everyone else. You come in, and play with these great players, and you play to their level.”

Igoe, a senior midfielder at BC, saw her fears disappear through the course of the weekend, as her Team USA teammates saw her play, and as she saw their character.

“It all fell into place,” she said. “The girls are so nice and welcoming. It felt really good to play with them.”

U.S. goalkeeper Devon Wills, a veteran of the 2007 gold medal squad, knows what Igoe and other first-timers among the 36 team members are going through.

“The bottom line is that they're happy to be here,” said Wills, the former Dartmouth standout who is now an assistant coach at the University of Denver. “They just haven't been around long enough to get attuned to our voices. A lot of us have played together for three years [or more]. So we naturally listen for each other. But they're going to get it.”

Wills said the real value of the Stars and Stripes event, which started Saturday with a game against Harvard and continued with split-squad scrimmages Sunday against Boston College and Boston University, was for the group to take the first steps toward melding together.

And although the next World Cup is still three years off, you can never start your preparations too early.

Especially when the title is yours to defend.

“I think it was good to get a sense of what works,” Wills said, “and what we need to improve on against another opponent. We do systems in practice, but ultimately we're all competitive. We want to beat the system. And it's good to see it work against a team that is good or better than those we would seen in World Cup situations.”

Igoe said that her initial giddiness over her Team USA selection has worn off. Getting there, it seems, is only half the fun.

“I was really excited to be part of this team,” she said. “But every day I want to work on getting better, and hopefully stick around.”

Whether Igoe is ultimately part of the 18-player core group that will defend the title in 2013 depends on the details, and her ability to stick to them.

That, according to U.S. head coach Ricky Fried, applies to everyone else, rookies and veterans alike.

“They're all competitive players,” Fried said. “They all want to show well. Our big emphasis is on doing the little things. They can all score goals. We don't need to see you score 17 goals to think that you're good. We need to see that you can make the right decisions on the field.

“You can be part of the team, because at the end of the process, we're going to pick the best 18 people to make up the best team. Not the 18 best people. So that becomes critical. Depending on the international landscape, we might need a certain type of defender. Or goalie. Right
now, we don't know.”

With Team USA playing split-squad contests against both BC and BU, Igoe got a chance to play against her Eagles teammates.

“It was really fun," she said. "We were joking about it before the game. It was fun to be around my teammates, [but] on the opposite side.”

Friendships in sports are checked at the sideline, however, so when Igoe got the chance to deliver “the book” on her erstwhile friends, she was quick to provide all of the skinny.

“I was able to say, 'Oh, this girl's a lefty,',” she said. “I was able to give them hints. It was fun.”

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