Blazing her own trail

Living in someone’s footsteps is never easy. You never want to be compared to your older brother or sister. Still, it happens - especially if you go to the same school and happen to play the same sport.

The comparisons will never stop. Coaches will sometimes say doesn’t she look like her sister? Or, doesn’t she play just like her sister does?

It takes a strong person to embrace the comparisons and use it as motivation. While the two may play the same sport, and position, each person is different.

For Lancaster High School girls lacrosse player Camryn Lucarelli she knew the comparisons were coming. After all, she plays the same position as her sister did - and actually played with her sister during high school for a couple of seasons.

Next year, Lucarelli will join her older sister at Canisius College as they look to bring home a MAAC title and even an NCAA tournament win home back to Buffalo. Heading to Canisius wasn’t a slam dunk for Lucarelli.

She had many offers from other Division I schools, but the lure of playing with her sister, and playing close to home, was just too tough to pass up.

“I had offers from other Division I schools as well as Division II. I went and did some other college visits, but I kept coming back to Canisius. I have always dreamed of playing Division I lacrosse since the time I picked up a stick in seventh grade,” explained Lucarelli. “To be able to play on one of the best women’s lacrosse teams is just a dream come true. Canisius is a powerhouse lacrosse team. Another plus was the fantastic business program that Canisius offers. I am considering majoring in business/marketing. As for my sister playing there, that was just an added bonus to be able to play with her again. Coach Teeter told me the first time I spoke to him, “You are not Riley Lucarelli’s little sister. You are Camryn Lucarelli. You are your own person.” I knew that he wanted to make that clear to me.”

Lucarelli knows the comparisons won’t stop when she walks on campus next fall. Sure, the coaches tell her she is her own person with her own game, but she still has to prove it on the field. Her older sister was one of the best defenders in Western New York while at Lancaster High School.

After seeing limited action as a freshman last season, she has been a stable force on the defensive end for the Griffs this season.Lucarelli doesn’t shy away from the the burden of having the same last name.

She brings on the pressure - and is ready to prove to everyone that she can step on the field and be a main contributor next season.

“My sister and I both play the same position, so I’m sure there are comparisons made. It doesn’t bother me though. I have always looked up to Riley,” stated Lucarelli. “She is a great lacrosse player without a doubt, and she is always encouraging me and pushing me to be the best I can be. Riley has played a big part in making me the player I am today. I am proud to share the same last name, but I plan on making a name for myself. I want to blaze my own trail. My sister and I are both three sports athletes- soccer, basketball, and lacrosse. We have had many of the same coaches along the way. I don’t think there is a coach out there that wouldn’t say that we are very similar in many ways, but yet very different at the same time. We always had each other’s backs on the field. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and use that to our advantage. I think that we make a great team and I’m looking forward to sharing the field with her again.”

Playing defense isn’t the most glorious position on the field. The announcers rarely say what a great defensive play. The offense gets all the glory. They are the one’s that score the goals. But, without solid defense, a team can’t win MAAC championships. A team can’t win Section VI titles.

The old saying goes that defense wins championships. Solid play on the back end takes the pressure of the offense. If the offense knows they don’t need to score 16 goals a game to win, it makes it a lot easier to do their job.

Lucarelli takes her defensive duties seriously. There is nothing better for a defender than to shut down the other teams’s top scorer.

“I am a defender but I also specialize in face guarding. When we are playing a tough team with one or two dominant offensive players, my coach will have me mark up and face guard the opposing team’s best player. The object is to be the biggest nuisance to her that I can be. It sometimes feels like the most intensive game of tag you can imagine! My job is to shut her down and deny her from scoring on us. I need to make sure that I eliminate their biggest threat. There is no greater satisfaction than knowing you were able to shut down a team’s top player or at least significantly limit her. It can be absolutely exhausting, but yet so rewarding,” explained Lucarelli. “It’s definitely true that defense doesn’t get much love. If you are looking for all the glory and accolades, don’t become a defender. You rarely see a defender’s name in the newspaper or mentioned the next day after the big game. Picking up a ground ball, stopping an opposing player from scoring, or having a great slide,are all accomplishments that defenders pride themselves on. These things are just as important as scoring a goal. However, it seems like all you ever hear about are the goal scorers. But defenders know how incredibly valuable they are to their team. I truly believe that expression, “Defense Wins Championships”. You can’t have a successful team without both a strong offense as well as a strong defense. If you can’t stop the other team from scoring on you, it won’t matter how many goals you put in their net.”

Lucarelli isn’t just a great lacrosse player, she also plays soccer and basketball. Being a multi-sport athlete is what a lot of colleges coaches look for. They want to see players being successful in the sport they are extremely good at - but also how they adapt to other sports and teammates.

Colleges coaches aren’t afraid if their prize recruit plays other sports. It’s up to the athlete to be able to take care of their bodies on and off the field. They know injuries happen - and that is just part of the game.

But, Lucarelli also knows she can’t go into a soccer season or basketball season playing it safe. That’s when more injuries happen - by being too safe.

“There is always a chance you could get injured in a game or even in practice. I think it’s always in the back of your mind, but you can’t let that stop you,” stated Lucarelli. “You can’t go on the field and play scared or hold back. With playing three sports, I usually only have a week or two off after one sport ends and the other begins. It keeps you busy so you don’t have time to think about getting hurt.”

She does have time, however, to think about that it’s like playing for a storied program like Lancaster. When you think of lacrosse dominance, it’s easy to turn to Lancaster. They have dominated the girls’ lacrosse scene.

With dominance, comes expectations. And there are a lot of expectations playing for Lancaster. Even if it’s a “down” year for the team, the Legends are still expected to challenge for a Sectional title.

That’s a lot of pressure to put on the girls that play for the program. But, they don’t crumble under the pressure, these Legends rise to the occasion.

“Lancaster has long been known as a dominant girls lacrosse team in Section VI. We have won 11 sectional titles in the past 13 seasons. We lost our title last year to our rivals, Frontier. Of course that loss still stings. We had a lot of obstacles to overcome last year. We were a very young team last season. When my sister graduated two years ago, we lost eight seniors. All of those seniors were valuable starters. When we returned last season, we only had three returning starters, myself, who was a sophomore, and two freshman. That goes to show how young our team was. We have all grown since last year and I am confident we will be back this year stronger than ever. Once you have a taste of that success , you will do anything to have it again,” stated Lucarelli. “We know that every time we step on the field, we have a target on our back. I feel that Canisius has the same pressure. They are the reigning Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champions and have been for the past six out of seven years. I feel that I will be prepared for that pressure after playing under similar conditions in Lancaster. Everyone has high expectations.”