Lehigh Women’s Lacrosse Seniors

Creating a Legacy

Looking at the 2011 Lehigh women’s lacrosse team, you see a program on the rise, a team enjoying unprecedented success not only regionally, but also on the national landscape. Four years ago, the Mountain Hawks were enjoying up-and-down success, including Patriot League Tournament berths in 2005 and ’07, yet tough seasons in 2004 and ’06.

One big reason for the turnaround is the current senior class featuring Lauren Dykstra, Kindall Healy and Allison Thomas. They have stepped in and helped mold the program to where it is today, a perennial contender for the Patriot League Championship.

“It’s absolutely no coincidence that the program’s changed dramatically since the arrival of the three seniors,” said Lehigh head coach Jill Redfern, who helped recruit the trio when she was an assistant under Liz Brode Harris. “They’re very different, yet very well connected with each other and the team.

The program’s dramatic rise since the seniors’ arrival is astounding. The three currently own a 43-21 (.672) record in their time in the Brown & White compared to the Mountain Hawks’ 26-40 record (.394) in the four years leading up to their arrival. The team has enjoyed a winning record every year during their tenure, this after finishing under .500 in eight of the previous nine seasons.

“They have great relationships with the coaching staff and are very loyal as a group to each other, to the coaches and to the program as a whole,” said Redfern. “They’ve taken so much pride in what they’ve accomplished that they put their name on it and stand behind it every day.”

Despite coming from different states, all three live within a short ride of home - Thomas came to Bethlehem from nearby Strafford, Pa. while Dykstra is from Mendham, N.J. and Healy from Wilton, Conn.

That’s about where the similarities end.

“We all have such different personalities, but they somehow, in some weird way, just combine and integrate to produce something really special,” said Healy.

Dykstra couldn’t agree more about her two teammates, classmates and roommates.

“They’ve taken so much pride in what they’ve accomplished that they put their name on it and stand behind it every day.”

“We’re three very different people, but they’re the two people I turn to first,” said Dykstra. “I love, respect and value the friendships that we’ve made.”

The three couldn’t be more different on the lacrosse field either. Dykstra is the team’s dynamic scorer, netting more than 200 goals in her decorated career. Thomas is Dykstra’s fellow co-captain, who owns more than 100 goals herself. Meanwhile, Healy has thrived in whatever role she’s asked. Primarily a midfielder, Healy has served as a key dual player, anchoring a strong defense while also scoring 22 goals of her own.

Extremely durable, Dykstra and Thomas have played in every game of their collegiate careers while Healy has seen action in 46 of 47 games over the past three seasons. That’s due in large part to exceptional work ethics combined with the help of Trainer Tim Doane and Strength and Conditioning Coach Eric Markovcy. Not only have the trio been on the field nearly every game, but they’ve also logged endless minutes in those contests. Quite frankly, it’s rare to see any of those three not on the field.

Look at the statistics and Dykstra’s numbers will pop out at you, and for good reason. A three-time All-Patriot League performer, she was named Rookie of the Year as a freshman, then Offensive Player of the Year as a sophomore and Defensive Player of the Year as a junior. She has already enjoyed one of the most decorated careers in Lehigh (and Patriot League) history, with a number of games still remaining.

When exploring Lehigh, one thing that stood out was the success of Sarah MacIntyre, who earned Patriot League Co-Rookie of the Year honors. Dykstra knew she could succeed from day one - which she has - while helping an already strong program take that next step into a perennial power.

“I definitely saw [Lehigh] as an up-and-coming program,” said Dykstra. “I was also looking at other places, but just had a good feel for Lehigh. All in all, the coaches were just overwhelmingly friendly and made me feel wanted.”

Dykstra’s fellow classmates were in similar situations.

“The coaching staff made a great point of talking about the other recruits they were bringing in who had a lot of potential,” said Healy. “They did a step-by-step vision of how we would grow (to where we are now). Especially with Jill’s intensity, I could tell from the second I met her that she means business.”

The three truly admire each other and what they bring to the table in all aspects of their lives.

A bit unpolished coming in, injury limited Thomas during her final two seasons at Conestoga High School. However, the potential was always there for her to turn into an elite Division I player… and that she has.

“It was obvious how much athleticism and upside she had for the Division I game,” said Redfern. “We thought that over time, she could become such an incredibly powerful player, which has been true.”

As a three-time All-Patriot League honoree, Thomas posted 28 and 24 points in her first two seasons, then broke out with 54 a year ago via 38 goals and 16 assists. That earned her first-ever First Team All-League distinction. Thomas is well on her way to similar numbers this year, currently at 39 points through 12 games.

Not to be forgotten is Healy, one of the team’s most steady and reliable players, who contributes on defense, offense and everything in between. Redfern saw something in her as a high schooler that has continued to translate into the college game.

“Kindall was on a very successful high school team,” said Redfern. “She played both ends of the field, had really nice size and a certain sense of grit and determination about her play. Kindall represents excelling in your role, whatever it may be; everyone can be highly valued if you’re the best that you can be. She’s improved every year and has become an anchor and a very well-respected player on our team.”

Healy currently owns 30 career points, led by a career-high 11 a season ago. Her more prominent role is on defense though, where she has 53 career groundballs and 26 caused turnovers. She has already tied a career high in that category, with nine this season.

In the end, stats are just numbers, but this trio represents something much more than that. They epitomize the power of teamwork and friendship.

“They’re like my sisters that I never had,” said Thomas. “I live with them, we do everything together and we always know what the other one is thinking. They’re just so wonderful to play with and great to live with. I couldn’t ask for two better teammates and friends.”

“They’re my best friends on and off the field,” said Healy. “When you see it’s your best friend you’re about to pass to, it’s a different connection. I trust them with all my heart; I know that I can count on them for anything.”

The three truly admire each other and what they bring to the table in all aspects of their lives.

“Lauren’s work ethic is incredible,” said Thomas. “I've never seen anything like it. She doesn't accept the word ‘no’ and pushes beyond a normal human's abilities. She has improved every day since our first practice and I don't think she could ever reach her maximum potential, or at least she won't ever settle for just being ‘amazing’.”

“Allison knows how to read people so well and has this energy and influence on others that is extremely effective,” said Healy. “She knows how to get the team excited. She is absolutely hilarious and her charisma is unmatched by anyone else I know.”

“Kindall is one of the most aggressive defenders I know, which has made her such a force on the field,” said Dykstra. “She has the loudest voice and is a true leader on our defensive end. She holds everything together back there and inspires people to match her intensity.”

The trio has enjoyed their fair share of memorable moments. Starting last season 8-0 and winning the Patriot League Regular Season Championship are just two examples. But the three have taken much more out of their college careers than a single moment or moments.

“I wouldn’t say there’s anything that stands out in particular, but just making so many long-lasting friendships is what I’ll remember most,” said Thomas. “It’s been a really fun experience with all of them.”

Regardless of this season’s outcome, these seniors have established an undeniable legacy within the Lehigh women’s lacrosse program. One memory they still hope to make is a Patriot League Championship.

“Obviously, being a part of a growing team is amazing, but if we ended it with that kind of statement, it would be indescribable,” said Healy.

“For every sweat droplet, every lift, every run that we’ve ever done, that’s what we’re working for and it would mean so much,” said Thomas.

“Just to see all the other [Lehigh] teams winning Patriot League Championships this year is inspiring,” said Dykstra. “I have no words for how I would feel to walk off winning the Patriot League Championship before going into NCAAs. That would just be a dream come true.”

If that happens, it would be the icing on the cake. But if it doesn’t, they’d have no reason to hang their heads. They have already done more for themselves, their coaches and their teammates than any win, loss or tie could ever mean.

“Our seniors have helped transform this program,” said Redfern. “There’s just no way we would be anywhere close to the program we are without them. Would it be a fabulous thing for them to walk away with a Patriot League Championship? Absolutely, but [no matter the ending], we wouldn’t want to diminish all that they have done for Lehigh women’s lacrosse.”