Former PDS Lax Star Kane Enjoys Debut at F&M, Helping Diplomats Reach NCAA D-III Quarters
DIPLOMATIC APPROACH: Bridget Kane, right, battles to get past a foe in a game during her career for the Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse team. This past spring, Kane competed in her debut season for the Franklin & Marshall women’s program, helping the Diplomats advance to the NCAA Division III quarterfinals. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
When Bridget Kane started going to the Franklin & Marshall lacrosse camp in seventh grade, she was focusing on sharpening her skills.
“I did the college camps, not to get recruited but to improve my game,” said Kane.
Entering the Princeton Day School in the fall of 2014, Kane got serious about the college recruiting process.
“My freshman year is when I started going to the big recruiting tournaments,” said Kane. “It was really real, that it is was an option to play in college.”
Kane went on enjoy a superb career PDS, scoring more than 100 goals and helping the Panthers win three state Prep B titles
When it came to playing at the next level, Kane quickly realized that F&M and its storied Division III lax squad was a natural fit.
“I wanted a high academic school where I was going to be challenged and also a successful lacrosse program,” said Kane, whose father, Ron Kane, the longtime boys’ basketball head coach at the Lawrenceville School was a three-sport athlete at F&M.
“From the start, I always felt very comfortable at F&M because I was so familiar with it. The fact that they offered both of those factors that I wanted in a school made the decision really easy for me. Just from getting to know coach [Mike Faith] and going to camp and the players there was something special about being on the team itself being a Diplomat and playing at F&M.”
During fall ball, Kane developed a comfort level with her new teammates.
“It was much more serious from the start, but I was ready to take on that challenge,” said Kane.
“I knew it was going to be a bigger commitment itself. I have always been willing to out in the extra time to make practices more beneficial and enjoyable. What made it really easy from the start was that all of the upperclassmen on my team reached out to the other freshmen and I in our recruiting class. They wanted to get to know us very quickly so going into the first day of practice, I was familiar with my teammates. I already had trust in them and they had trust in me and the other freshmen.”
Kane was part of the supporting cast this spring for the Diplomats, playing as a reserve midfielder, coming off the bench to score two goals and get three assists in 13 appearances.
“I just wanted to take advantage of any position I was given, whether that was cheering on the sidelines or being a player in a big game,” said Kane.
“I was going into it knowing that I was just thankful to be on the team and to take advantage of how lucky I am to be in a position that I was in.”
Making her debut against Messiah on March 2 in the team’s third game was a big moment for Kane.
“That was exciting; it was great to finally put all of my practice time onto the field,” said Kane.
“Finally getting out on the field helped me feel more comfortable for the rest of the season. I did gain a lot more confidence.”
For Kane, getting up to speed at the college level required her to adjust to a faster pace.
“The speed of the game is big but there were a lot of rule changes from high school,” said Kane.
“We have the shot clock, which I really like a lot. We also have the self-start rule. In high school, the refs would blow the whistle on the field and everybody would stop. Now you can keep moving. It is a whole new game that I wasn’t really used to.”
Kane enjoyed a breakthrough game in a 16-0 win at Bryn Mawr in early April when she scored her first career goal and picked up two assists.
“That was a great game, definitely one I will remember,” said Kane. “It was really the first game where I really felt like myself. I used that game to my advantage the rest of the season. I finally put it all together, all I worked for from fall ball throughout February and preseason so that was really special.”
The Diplomats produced a special season, taking a nine-game winning streak into the Centennial Conference championship contest.
“We had a really good run; we knew that we had very tough competition,” said Kane.
“We always said before every game that everyone could beat us so we need to have the mindset of let’s not let them beat us or quit. Going into that mindset helped us play our best.”
Although F&M fell 16-6 to Gettysburg in the title game, it rebounded from that setback to advance to the NCAA D-III quarterfinals.
“The conference final didn’t reflect our play; we knew it wasn’t our day,” said Kane, noting that the Diplomats had defeated Gettysburg 9-6 in a regular season meeting between the rivals.
“We all reflected on it the day after. We got our bids that night and that we have a good spot and we knew we could go really far in the tournament. That loss never stopped us from playing our best.”
Contributing to the team’s NCAA run, Kane picked up an assist in a 19-7 win over Illinois Wesleyan in the Sweet 16.
“That was exciting, just being able to play in all of those tournament games,” said Kane, reflecting the team’s late surge which saw it fall 16-4 to eventual national champion Middlebury in the Elite 8 to finish the spring with a 17-5 record.
“It really helped me finish off the year on a high and start looking forward to next season.”
While Kane hoped to see more game action this season, training every day with skilled teammates helped her become a better player.
“I definitely think that practice helped; my team is very competitive and our coach always says that playing time is a privilege, not an expectation,” said Kane.
“Knowing that, I have always tried to take every practice like a tryout and play my best. I was playing against better players than I did sometimes in games. My confidence as a player grew throughout the year.”
Looking ahead to next season, Kane is confident that she can have a bigger impact for the high-powered Diplomats, who have won two D-III national titles (2007, 2009) and have made 21 NCAA tournament appearances.
“Going into this year, I know what I have to do to succeed individually and, more importantly, for my team as well,” said Kane.
“My goals are to help my team; I try to always throw the extra pass and see the field the well. I want to take advantage of every opportunity I get on and off the field, always trying to do the extra thing to make the most out of every practice and game.”