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During Lauren Morton’s undergraduate days on the women’s lacrosse team, BU Athletics director Drew Marrochello pointed her out on Nickerson Field and told a bystander, “That’s the toughest athlete we have.”
“Toughest on the field?” the bystander asked, “or toughest women’s lacrosse player?”
“That’s not what I said,” Marrochello answered. “What I mean is she’s the toughest of all 585 student-athletes that we have.”
Marrochello recalled that exchange as he announced June 19, 2018, that Morton (CAS’08) would bring that toughness back to her alma mater as the new head coach of women’s lacrosse. She comes to BU from Duke, where as an associate head coach she helped groom the Blue Devils for national honors and personal bests over the last four years.
The University introduced Morton at a reception at a sun-splayed Nickerson Field, a venue she knows well: she was the team’s assistant coach in 2011 and 2012, when she helped the Terriers win the America East regular season title, and during her student days she was a two-time team captain.
As a senior, Morton was named the team’s most valuable player and was chosen by the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association as an All-American. She scored 160 goals and was responsible for 92 turnovers during her playing career.
“Words can’t describe what it means to be back to a place that I love, that I understand, and that I want to represent,” Morton told assembled BU Athletics coaches and employees. “To the current and future teams of BU lacrosse, I can promise you I will give you my absolute best.”
“It was fun walking into the locker room today and seeing it kind of lived-in by a whole new group of girls,” she said in an interview, adding that part of her job will be to help the team adjust to the game-altering changes that have swept the sport.
“It’s a much faster game,” she said. “In the past three years, we have had some pretty significant rule changes, with adding in the 90-second shot clock, adding in the free movement.” (The latter rule allows players to move anywhere on a foul or when the ball goes out of bounds, rather than having to stop whenever the whistle blows.) Coaches need to recruit even more top athletes to add depth to their bench in this new playing environment, she said.
Alumni consulted by the University overwhelmingly favored Morton for the job, Marrochello said, and they weren’t all lacrosse veterans. He recalled asking BU hockey star and Hobey Baker Award winner Matt Gilroy (MET’09) for his suggestion for the men’s ice hockey head coaching post that recently went to former player and associate head coach Albie O’Connell (CAS’99).
“Matt said…‘I don’t really have a candidate for men’s ice hockey. I would like to recommend Lauren Morton as your women’s lacrosse coach,’” Marrochello said. “It’s no coincidence that our women’s lacrosse most successful years were when she was here,” a period that saw BU posting three NCAA Tournament victories.
The psychology major will need her insights to lead a team that under former coach Liz Robertshaw struggled much of the 2018 season with inexperience (it had 10 freshmen players) and an early-schedule string of formidable opponents. The team managed a late-season winning spurt before falling to Loyola Maryland in the Patriot League tournament semifinals and ended the season with a 10-8, 5-4 PL record.
From Doe West, a former BU psychology lecturer, Morton said, she learned about “being a good person and how you can help and have such an altruistic nature,” which assists in forming connections to other people. “Where it ties into coaching is that once you can connect with players and they know that you believe in them and that you have their back, you then can really push them out of their comfort zone…so they’re kind of growing as a person.”
Lexi Lewis (Questrom’20), who was among several players at the reception, said that one alumna and former player “said they would retake their whole college experience just to be under her. I could not be happier with the choice.”
Teammate Christine Carugati (COM’20) said that when players met their new coach before the June 19 reception, “it was really nice to hear from her what she’s expecting and what she wants for this program.”
Morton’s coaching career has taken her to universities up and down the East Coast. In addition to BU and Duke, she has been an assistant coach at Georgetown—that team made the NCAA Tournament during both seasons she was there—and on the coaching staff at Lafayette College. She also worked with Philadelphia’s Ultimate Goal Lacrosse, which teaches players ages 12 to 18 skills such as teamwork and communication.
Rich Barlow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.