In a season of few constants for the women’s lacrosse team, senior Sarah Averson has provided the Red with some continuity. She has stepped into her role as the team’s lead attacker and brought her play up a notch. In her first 12 games this year she has equaled her mark from last year in goals (with 34) and bettered her number of assists (12).
Every week, game in and game out, she provides a reliable scoring threat and a huge presence on the attack. On her way to leading the team in goals and points and placing second in assists, she has led the team in scoring five times and was named Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week twice.
“She’s someone who plays with incredible intensity,” said head coach Jenny Graap ’86. “She inspires her teammates with her competitiveness.”
Averson received her latest Ivy League honor this week after scoring 11 points in her past two games, including three goals and three assists in the Cornell victory over Brown last weekend. But the attacker says she never worries about the individual honors.
“It’s not something I really expect or really think about in the games,” said Averson.
She said she didn’t even know about her latest award until her teammates told her about it. That, however, is not to suggest she does not appreciate it.
“It’s a pretty big honor,” she said.
For Averson, the individual statistics and awards take a backseat to the Red’s performance.
“I’d rather see my teammates play well on the field than Sarah Averson score six goals,” she said.
Graap noted that facet of her game too, in particular pointing to her three-assist performance against Brown. Averson already has three more assists than she did last year, showing just how she has improved that facet of her game.
“She’s setting up other players to do well,” said Graap, “she’s making the players around her better.”
And while most people might miss it, the coach noted Averson’s versatility.
“She’s actually a very good defender,” said Graap. “She’s become a really solid defensive player.”
“I think her ability to play defense is really sort of an overlooked quality.”
And of course, she can score too, a lot. Last year she was second on the team with 34 goals. Her sophomore year she had 22; as a freshman she had 35.
“She plays with an element of fearlessness,” said Graap. “The confidence that she has to play against anyone is really special.”
“I’m confident I can take the ball to the goal and maybe beat a double team,” said Averson.
But she also noted the importance of judgment.
“You have to pick your moments,” she said.
Lately, with senior Sarah Fischer off the attack with an injury, Averson’s role has been even bigger.
“She’s kind of on her own out there,” said Graap.
That means she always draws a team’s top defender, and she is, without a doubt, the go-to senior attacker. Accordingly, she has beat the defense and stepped up to produce some of her biggest games of the season.
“I’m really proud of the way she’s played under the pressure,” Graap concluded. Averson is comfortable in her role, noted the coach.
However, Averson’s competitive intensity on the field does not necessarily translate to her personality off the field.
“I think I’m a serious player to a point,” she said, “but I try not to take it too seriously.”
“I take a more laid back approach,” Averson said, attitude-wise.
Graap noted her empathy for her teammates; she’s always trying to help them out.
“She’s always consistent and she’s very kind and very thoughtful,” said Graap.
And that thoughtfulness, along with the offensive power and versatility, will be just one more quality behind the team making it better as it works to get back to the NCAA tournament for the third year in a row. Despite the Red’s recent setbacks against Dartmouth and Syracuse, Averson is looking up.
“You can’t really hang your head for that long,” said the senior.
“We never really wanted to lose, never really expected to,” she said. “I’d just like to see us win out in the rest of the season.”
Archived article by Matt James