Playing sports in high school, most athletes probably remember having an arch-nemesis, that player on their rival school's team that they just couldn't stand. Maybe they played nasty on the field. Maybe they refused to shake hands post-game. Maybe they were the only other player on the field that could keep up.
Lily Ricci '13 and Nancy Baker '12 — both state champions in Ohio and high school All-American women's lacrosse players — thought they'd seen the last of each other when Baker's team beat Ricci's in the 2008 state championship game. Baker graduated later that year, thinking she'd had the last laugh.
But the two would meet again. This time, as teammates.
Maybe it's fate. Maybe it's just a small world. Either way, the former rivals have put their differences behind them. They both contributed to an impressive season-opening win when Brown hosted Sacred Heart last Saturday.
The Bears put on an exhibition, defeating the Pioneers, 14-6.
Their success can no doubt be attributed to the countless hours training, lifting and scrimmaging in the past six months.
"We wanted to make practices as challenging as possible," said Head Coach Keely McDonald '00.
She's not kidding. Team practices have averaged three hours in length, recently upwards of six times a week. But the girls are confident that all their hard work is about to pay off.
"Every team faces challenges … it's how you overcome them that makes a great team," McDonald said. "They know how to respond in that they're always together and always optimistic."
Anyone eating in the V-Dub post-lacrosse practice can see how close the team has become: Even Baker and Ricci can be spotted together, chatting and laughing like old friends.
They'll need to present a strong, united front if they want to finish in the top four of the Ivy League and qualify for the first-ever Ivy League Women's Lacrosse Tournament.
The outcome of Saturday's game suggests that the team has what it takes.
Paris Waterman '11 and captain Bethany Buzzell '10 proved themselves players to watch, scoring three goals apiece, while newcomer Lindsay Minges '13 also made a statement on the field, scoring a goal and assisting another in her career debut.
Minges and Ricci are two of eight talented freshmen. The first-years represent a third of the entire team.
"This year has a lot of young kids, so we had to rework how we were going to work as a team to get to where we are," McDonald said.
For the athletes, "reworking" meant back to the basics.
"When we started this year, as coaches we made a dedication to the fundamentals because we have such a young team," McDonald said. "And it's worked. Their stick skills are better than last year."
Seven of the newcomers saw field time on Saturday, with Minges, Ricci and Sidney Jacobs '13 making it into the starting lineup.
Veterans Kara Kelly '10 and Kiki Manners '10, tri-captains along with Buzzell, anchored the defense and can be expected to do so all season.
The Bears host Quinnipiac this Sunday and look to improve their record to 2-1 after a 9-5 loss at Boston University late Wednesday afternoon.