Sarah Dalton’s Last Cradles
Lacrosse star caps an amazing college career; semifinals today
Hair rolled in her signature Princess Leia buns, Sarah Dalton pounds across Nickerson Field clutching a lacrosse stick. With only 12 minutes remaining in the first half of the season’s final game, the Terriers are down two points to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
As the clock counts down, Dalton (CGS’07, CAS’09) strikes, and less than 10 seconds later sets up McKinley Curro (CGS’08, COM’10) for a game-tying tally. Three goals later, BU has the lead for good. The 12th-ranked Terriers trump the Retrievers 15-10, closing the regular season at 13-3 overall and 6-0 in league play.
For Dalton, the win is bittersweet. Over the past four years, the lanky, freckle-faced midfielder from Cornwall, Vt., has led the women’s lacrosse team to three America East championships. She’ll be trying for four this afternoon, when the team hosts the University of Vermont in the America East semifinals on Nickerson Field.
Dalton is eager to play, but her excitement is tinged with wistfulness.
“The end of the season is always hardest for me,” she says. “But this year is especially poignant because it’s the last time I’ll play for BU.”
Following in her older brother’s footsteps, Dalton first took up a lacrosse stick in seventh grade. By high school, she was a hometown celebrity, twice most valuable player while leading her team to two state championships.
With 75 goals this season, Dalton leads the nation with an average of 4.69 goals per game, breaking her own BU single-season record of 71 goals, set last season. Yesterday, the America East Conference unanimously voted her the America East Women’s Lacrosse Player of the Year, an honor she earned last year as well. Earlier this week, she was named America East Women’s Lacrosse Player of the Week, the fourth time this season she’s captured that award — more than any other player in the league. Last year, she was selected to the All-Conference first team and the All-American first team, and she was nominated for the Tewaaraton Trophy, the lacrosse version of hockey’s Hobey Baker Award or football’s Heisman Trophy, in both 2008 and 2009.
The team captain marvels at her successes. “Coming in as a freshman,” Dalton recalls, “I didn’t know what kind of commitment I was getting myself into. I was competing against girls who were a lot stronger and a lot faster, and there were many moments when I asked myself, can I do this? And can I be happy doing it?” Although the challenge nearly defeated her on more than one occasion, she says, she also “loved the fight in it.”
A practical joker, Dalton credits her teammates — and her sarcastic sense of humor — with carrying her through the toughest games. “We played the University of New Hampshire on April 1 this year,” she says, “and we were trailing 4-0. We rallied in the second half and won, and I told our coaches that the first half was an April Fools’ joke. They weren’t amused.”
More than anything, says Dalton, she will miss the camaraderie of her teammates. “The little things are the hardest to let go,” she says. “Watching Miracle in the locker room, chugging a blue Gatorade before a game, catching a teammate’s eye before making that perfect score. It all went by so fast.”
By this time next year, Dalton hopes to be an assistant lacrosse coach at the college level, perhaps out West or down South. But she doesn’t plan to stay away from New England forever. She’d like to come back to teach high school math — and coach a high school lacrosse team.
The women’s lacrosse team hosts the University of Vermont in the America East semifinals today, April 30, at 1 p.m. at Nickerson Field.
Vicky Waltz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments