Emerging as Star Defender for PU Women’s Lax, Andersen Playing for Ireland in Women’s World Cup
FIGHTING IRISH: Nonie Andersen heads up the field this spring for the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team. Rising junior defender Andersen is currently competing for Ireland in the 2017 FIL Rathbones Women’s Lacrosse World Cup in England. She is being joined at the competition, which runs from July 12-22, by Princeton teammate Olivia Hompe ’17, who is playing for England. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
As Nonie Andersen entered her final year at Glenbrook High in the Chicago area in the fall of 2014, she didn’t appear to be a likely candidate to play for Ireland’s women’s national lacrosse team.
But when Andersen, a dual U.S. and Irish citizen, learned that she was eligible to try out for the squad, she headed to Dublin in October to give it a shot.
“I saw that I met the requirements to try out in my senior year of high school so I thought what the hell why don’t I just try,” said Andersen, a native of Glenview, Ill. “This would be cool.”
After going through a three-day tryout, Andersen made the team and went on to help Ireland take fifth at the 2015 European Championships.
For Andersen, who had committed to attend Princeton and play for its women’s lacrosse team, competing at the European Championship was ideal preparation for the next level.
“It definitely elevated my game; it was tough competition so that is obviously helpful,” said Andersen.
“It was a really good stepping stone to the collegiate level. It was perfect prep because the games were faster paced and physical like the college game. It also got me used to being up against people who were bigger, faster, and stronger.”
Over the last two seasons, Andersen has emerged as a star defender for Princeton, making 15 appearances with three starts as a freshman in 2016 and then moving into the starting lineup this spring, playing in 18 games and tallying two goals and an assist with 22 ground balls and 11 caused turnovers.
With that experience under her belt, Andersen will be looking to excel again internationally, having made the Irish squad for the upcoming 2017 FIL Rathbones Women’s Lacrosse World Cup, which is taking place from July 12-22 in Surrey, England.
“We have pretty high expectations; I know we like how our pool play group looks,” said Andersen in assessing the prospects of Ireland, which is in Pool E along with New Zealand, Sweden, and Colombia and needs to finish first to advance to the Championship Division.
“We want to come out on top of that and we want to see if we can get as far as we can. Lacrosse is developing all around the world. The level of play in Ireland had risen as it has everywhere.”
Andersen’s level of play has risen markedly over the last two years from having played with a stellar Princeton defensive unit.
“Being a defender on Princeton is a huge blessing,” said the 5’7 Andersen.
“You can’t play defense alone and the upperclassmen you are playing with are amazing team players. They know that in order for the team to be successful, they need to really work with you and be vocal leaders and help you out. You have these seniors who are so helpful, so kind and always willing to help you take your game to the next level.”
This spring, Andersen assumed more of a leading role as she became a starter.
“When you are on a team like Princeton, every player deserves to be on the field,” said Andersen.
“Not only is it an honor but you have to work hard to stay in that starting lineup. I feel a little bit out of my league but I also know that all these players are incredible and they have my back if something goes wrong.”
Andersen’s blazing speed has helped her get on the field for the Tigers.
“I think that is what allows me be a good face guarder this season and it helps me clear the ball,” said Andersen.
“I know that Ellie [goalie Ellie DeGarmo] a lot of the time looked for me to pop right away. I think that is what allowed me to mark up these players because I had the speed. If they got a little cut on me, I could catch up.”
With Princeton going 15-4 in 2017, winning the Ivy League and advancing to the NCAA quarters, it was a very good spring.
“There were so many moments over this season that were great,” said Andersen, citing wins over Cornell in the NCAA tournament and a regular season triumph over Notre Dame, the alma mater of her mother and one of her older sisters, as particular highlights.
“We had incredible opportunities for the entire year on and off the field with a lot of people.”
In Andersen’s view, playing in the World Cup will be another great opportunity for her. She headed over to Ireland on July 3 with the team to hold a training camp starting on July 5. The squad will then head over to England for more training and some scrimmages before starting play in the tourney.
Andersen will be moving up to the midfield for Ireland as she did in the 2015 Euro.
“For me, it is just nice to get the stick moving again and evolve,” said Andersen, who is hoping to face Princeton teammate Olivia Hompe ’17, a member of the England squad at the World Cup.
“I love playing defense, that is where my heart is but midfield is really fun because my great skill is that I am a runner. I can get up and down the field pretty quick and that is helpful.”
Looking ahead to the competition, Andersen believes that Ireland has what it takes to move up the international ladder.
“We got fifth at Euros and while we were happy with that, I think we can do better,” said Andersen.
“We have a decent amount of new players, so during training camp we need to bring the team together and really work on communication. Just getting to know each other will be huge. We have fantastic veterans on the team who have been doing this for four or five tournaments, so those people can really step up and use their experience to help us. They can bring us all together and be vocal leaders.”