AUBURN — Four Auburn girls lacrosse players made their college decisions official on Wednesday.
Abbey Hai signed her letter of intent for Albright College, while Karrigan Gregory signed with Morrisville State. Daisy Townsend agreed to play lacrosse at Cayuga Community College, while Maleia White said she was going to either Cayuga or Onondaga Community College during the ceremony at Auburn High School Wednesday afternoon.
The significance of sending four more student-athletes off to play college lacrosse wasn't lost on Maroons coach Bill Dean.
"There's two parts to it. It shows the growth of the sport in our community and a lot of girls coming out and getting involved in girls lacrosse," Dean said. "The second part is that it also shows that the girls we do have, that have been playing for a while now, they really enjoy and cherish the game so much and love it and they want to go on and play. Because of the hard work they've put into it and all the time they've put in, their skills are such that they can continue on to that next level."
Hai plans to study environmental science at Albright, a Division III college in Pennsylvania.
"When I went to the school and I met the team, I felt like I had already been living there and was a part of the team, especially when I was hanging out with them," Hai said. "I just seemed to fit right in with them and they welcomed me like I was already on the team."
Hai has a foot injury that will likely keep her out until April. Still, she plans to do what she can to help the team, even if it's just as simple as cheering them on from the sidelines.
When she comes back, Dean looks for her to be a difference-maker.
"We're looking for her to come out and be a big scoring threat for us," Dean said. "We want her to help manage the offense with her being a senior and more mature. Being around the system last year, we look to her to either slow things down or speed up the pace and know the situation on the field and react."
Gregory is going on for criminal justice at Morrisville, a Division III school. For her, the key was the feel of the school.
"I loved the campus and the atmosphere," Gregory said. "I did an overnight (trip) at the school and loved the team and the energy they brought and the passion they had."
Dean is looking to see the same hustle — that 100 percent hustle — especially on clearing attempts and ground balls.
"The thing that really is impressive is her stick skills have grown tremendously, as well as her IQ and knowledge for the game," Dean said. "A lot of that comes with maturity. As you get older, you're able to grasp some of the concepts a little bit better. Those two things have been an amazing growth since we saw her earlier in her high school career."
Townsend is going to attend Cayuga, a revived program under the direction of Auburn alum Alyssa Long. While she mostly chose CCC because of the low cost, Townsend still sees potential for advancement in her lacrosse career.
"Going to a community college ... you can still transfer out and go to any division afterwards," Townsend said. "If I keep working hard I could still go to Division III, Division II or maybe Division I afterward. If I keep working hard, I can still get offers. It's hard, but it's still possible."
While the other players have determined their future, Smith is still down to two schools — OCC or CCC.
"I'm not really sure what I want to do yet," Smith said. "It's still kind of up in the air."
Smith may still be pondering her future, but for the others making their final college decisions is a weight off their shoulders.
"You start to feel it your senior year," Gregory said. "You see everybody else around you signing and committing to places. I just wanted to take my time and choose the right place. As soon as I committed it was a little weight off my shoulders, definitely."