Vol. LXI, No. 29
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
(Photo courtesy of Amherst College Sports Information Department)
STICKING WITH IT: Alyssa Briody looks for an opening during her career with the Amherst College women's lacrosse team. Briody, a Princeton Day School alumna, was named as a Division III first-team All-American this spring after scoring 66 points on 19 goals and 47 assists for the Lord Jeffs. Briody ended her Amherst career with 203 points on 106 goals and 97 assists.
Alyssa Briody brought high hopes into her final season with the Amherst College women's lacrosse team this past spring.
The Lord Jeffs were ranked No. 1 nationally in the Division III preseason poll, coming off a 12-4 season in 2006 that saw former Princeton Day School star Briody score 76 points and earn All-American recognition.
Briody and her teammates lived up to their advance billing in the early stages of the season, getting off to a 6-1 start.
But Amherst stumbled down the stretch, losing six of its last nine games to finish 9-7 as it failed to make the NCAA tournament.Despite the team's struggles, Briody still put up big numbers, scoring 66 points on 19 goals and 47 assists, getting named as a first-team All-American.
Although the spring was marked by a lot of frustration, Briody found it tough to let go of athletics.
"When we were clearing the stuff out of our locker a few days after the last game, I was sobbing," said Briody, who ended her career with 203 points on 106 goals and 97 assists.
"It was worse than graduation. My coach (Chris Paradis) came over and said hold it together. Since middle school, I had always had a season coming up and I realized this was it."
Briody acknowledged that her final campaign came down to some unrealized potential. "We had an idea that we could always get it done in close games," said Briody, who helped Amherst advance to the NCAA Final Four in 2004 as a freshman.
"We didn't start out fast; I think we were a little lazy at the beginning of games. We lost some games and it was oh my god we can lose these games. It was a weird season in the NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference), everyone was beating everyone. The lower seeded teams were beating the higher seeds."
Being on the wrong side of some close games was particularly galling for Briody and her classmates."We had such high expectations coming into the season," said Briody.
"My roommates and I were the captains of the team and we were very excited. I had the feeling that this was our year; that last season we could win a national championship."
Instead of hoisting trophies, Briody and her teammates learned some valuable lessons about character. "At the senior athletes banquet, one of the speakers said the most important thing about our athletic careers was going through losing," recalled Briody.
"We had some real soul searching; we had a lot of talks about what you get from lacrosse and why you love the game. I think figuring out how to deal with the losing brought us closer together. We were forced to take responsibility; we decided to hold each other responsible."
In the process, Briody went from being the attack's main goal scorer to its most prolific feeder as she was credited with 47 of Amherst's 83 assists in 2007. "After I scored so many goals my junior year, teams came out to shut me down," said Briody, who fired in 49 goals in 2006.
"That meant there were openings for other players and my role naturally evolved into that of playmaker. When I was getting assists, everyone was getting involved. When our attack was on, everyone was contributing."
Briody's contributions gained notice nationally as she earned All-American accolades for a second straight season.
"That was really nice," said Briody, who was also named as a first-team All-NESCAC performer.
"I wasn't expecting it. Personally I wasn't as much of a standout as the year before. I didn't feel that good about myself; it's easy to beat yourself up when you're losing."
Briody did feel good about being named as the recipient of Amherst's Thomas H. Wyman medal which goes to the member of the senior class who best represents the highest standards in scholarship, athletics, and/or extracurricular activities, and community service.
"That meant a lot," said Briody, a Latin American Studies major who was a two-time selection for the NESCAC Spring All-Academic Team which is open to junior and senior student-athletes who are varsity letter winners with a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.35 on a 4.0 scale. "It is the highest compliment of the things I worked for. I wanted to be a well-rounded person, to excel in academics and athletics."
Briody, for her part, believes her success at college was the natural extension of some advice she got as a callow freshman at PDS. "I feel like everything I did in lacrosse comes from Coach [Jill] Thomas and what she told us when we were freshmen at PDS," said Briody, who will be working as a paralegal at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boston this year as she decides on whether to pursue a career in law.
"She said if you don't have confidence, fake it until the confidence comes. I took a deep breath every time I went on the field and I would not let anybody know that I might be flustered."
Briody's ability to fight through nerves and frustration came in handy this spring and will unquestionably aid her down the road.
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