Friday, 11 May 2012 00:00
For Hicksville’s Kacey Abbriano, getting the first step has always been important. Norwich University’s senior women’s lacrosse midfielder has taken that motto to heart.
“We want to make some history for the program,” Abbriano said looking ahead to the NCAA tourney. “We’ve never been able to move on in the national tournament, and I think it would be great to do so as a senior.”
“Kacey and the entire senior class have been working towards this since they arrived at Norwich,” coach Elizabeth Van Parys said. “It’s been great to see what they’ve accomplished. I know they want to keep it going.”
She’s used to being a part of historic feats. Along with the aforementioned ability to play lacrosse during her elementary and junior high years due to the work of her parents and others in her hometown, Abbriano also managed to break onto her high school squad as a freshman.
“Not too many players had that chance, but it became an option after some teammates had gotten hurt,” she said. “A friend and I were called up for some regular season games and the playoffs.”
“My family was important through my early years,” she added. “Mom and Dad were always so supportive, and they knew enough to step away when I moved into the older years of the PAL so it would be fair for the other players.”
The accomplishments of her freshman year stuck with her high school coach. Abbriano started as a sophomore, junior and senior and was a team captain for the last two seasons. Hicksville High School marched into the county playoffs in each of those three years, too.
From there, Kacey made the decision to head north and join the Cadets for her collegiate playing days. Van Parys is happy she did.
She recently went over the 200-goal mark for her career and has been a four-time all-Great Northeast Athletic Conference honoree including being named Rookie of the Year following her freshman season. Abbriano has also been a captain the last two years and helped maneuver the Maroon and Gold to 29 consecutive GNAC wins, a 41-19 overall record, three straight conference postseason tournament titles and three successive NCAA Division III appearances.
“When the official puts the ball into play on the draw control, I want to make sure I get an extra step on my defender,” she said. “I love running, so the midfield spot has always been great.
“It’s been awesome having players like Grace (Fitzpatrick), Mollie (Fitzpatrick) and Danielle (Del Dotto) around,” she added. “When you have teammates with that level of experience and success around, it makes you better.”
Even with all of that around, Abbriano still marvels about her individual success and opportunities.
“I never would have dreamed that it would have gone like this,” she said. “Some of the girls I played with in high school went Division II and don’t get much of a chance to play and there was a teammate that went to Temple who has been fairly successful. However, I’ve been fortunate where I’m at.”
“Kacey has such a sense for the ball all the way around the field,” Van Parys said. “The fact that she leads the team in all categories is a testament to her ability and leadership.”
However, Abbriano and her teammates have had to deal with some tough times, too. Included in that was a heartbreaking 10-9 double overtime loss to in-state rival Castleton May 2, where the program’s 19-game home field win streak ended and Abbriano’s run of 25 straight multiple-goal games stopped.
Always looking at the positive side, the senior and her teammates see the loss as a way to motivate them for what they all hope is a successful NCAA tournament appearance.
“We were talking (after the Castleton loss), and everyone thinks that it may have served an important life lesson,” she said. “We’re going to have some losses along the way. We may have gotten a little too cocky thinking we were going to go undefeated. It has helped focus us.”
When the postseason run concludes and graduation is complete, Kacey has plenty to look forward to. Her physical education major has helped lead her to a long-term substitute opening at Barre City Elementary, and the thought of maybe exploring more lacrosse after college has crossed her mind.
“I know there aren’t that many options out there,” she said of continuing her playing career. “However, I’ve looked into it. We’ll see what happens.”
Another first step taken.