Allison Collins finished her junior season as an All-American goalie for Natick High’s lacrosse team but now she’s focusing on winning a state championship to wrap up her four-year career.
The 5-foot-3 native of Natick has some lofty goals as the Redhawks get ready to open their season at Mansfield on April 3. Collins, who was the field hockey team’s top scorer for three years, is confident Natick’s lacrosse contingent can be a force both in the Bay State Conference and the playoffs.
“We’ve never won the Herget Division since I’ve been playing, so that would be nice,’’ she said. “We’ve also never advanced past the second round in the three years I’ve competed in the tourney. It’s realistic that our squad can go deep, win the Sectional, and battle for the State championship. It’s all about playing our style and staying focused.’’
Collins’ individual goals include daily improvement but she definitely would like to achieve All-American status again. Last year, she was nominated by her coach, Tanner Guarino, and became one of 25 girls in Massachusetts chosen for the honor. The Eastern Mass. Girls Lacrosse Coaches Association was the voting body.
“My primary goal is to top last year’s save percentage of 56.4,’’ she noted. “I want to be well over 50 percent each game and that would hopefully lead to many victories. I’d also like to be an All-American again. I was humbled and so pleased to achieve that honor. It was a testament to lots of hard work and commitment.’’
Collins, who started playing lacrosse at the age of eight, has also spent eight years competing at the club level. A starter at Natick High halfway through her freshman year, she helped the Redhawks compile a 12-8 overall record last year that included an 18-10 loss to powerhouse Franklin in the second round. Earlier, Collins led Natick to a 15-8, first-round win over Newton North. She ended her junior season with a 9.25 goals-against average.
“Allison is a great leader on and off the field,’’ Guarino said. “She’s highly skilled, instinctive, has quick hands, and is accurate with her clears. She’s also upbeat, positive and promotes team chemistry.’’
Named as a first-team BSC all-star last year, Collins has accepted a scholarship from Assumption College in Worcester and will be competing for the Greyhounds next spring.
But, the 18-year-old National Honor Society student, has some unfinished business to tend to. She wants to utilize her talents to maximize Natick’s results.
“I consider myself an aggressive goaltender who relies on instincts and communication,’’ Collins noted. “My strengths are field awareness, hand-eye coordination, technical skills, footwork, and focus. Staying focused on the ball, not the player, is a big key. I’ve learned at camps and clinics to watch the head of the stick.’’
Collins’ best game came in a 7-5 loss to Franklin in a regular season game last year. She was playing that match a week after she and her family were dealing with a tragic death.
“My brother’s girlfriend of five years died in a boating accident in Denmark,’’ Collins said. “She was 21 and studying abroad in college. Linsey’s favorite number was 26 and I had 26 saves against Franklin. That was a save percentage of 79. Franklin is an amazing team that really tested us. I’ll always remember that our entire team played exceptionally well.’’
And, if Natick is to reach the team objectives Collins is aiming for, it’ll need top-notch play again from her teammates. She’s convinced that three seniors and a pair of sophomores will be major contributors.
“Seniors Meghan Rodino (attack), Emily Hawley (midfield), and Christina Polymeros (midfield) will play key roles,’’ Collins said. “They’re passionate about lacrosse, work smoothly, are very strong offensively and promote teamwork. Sophomores Victoria Norchi (midfield) and Kayleigh Hacker (defense) are capable of making things happen. Victoria is strong in transition and Kayleigh is a solid defender.’’
Calling Guarino “an amazing addition to Natick’s staff,’’ Collins admires her coach’s motivating spirit and her penchant for practicing with the team. “Coach Guarino still plays lacrosse,’’ Collins noted. “And, she lives and breathes the sport.’’
Relying on a philosophy of competing to win, Collins, nevertheless, maintains that “if we give 100 percent and lose, that’s okay because we gave our maximum effort.’’ Collins also is a firm believer that athletics provide an opportunity to learn valuable life lessons.
“Sports can help teach about compassion for a teammate that might have failed to make a play and caused a defeat,’’ Collins emphasized. “You learn to fix a problem after a loss. Athletics also teach the value of hard work, how to manage your time and how to develop leadership skills and accountability.’’
Calling her parents (Mike and Kim) role models for their support and encouragement, Collins is a fan of pro lacrosse player Jackie Chirco of the Boston Storm. “She played at Assumption and wore No. 23, the number I hope to wear,’’ Collins said. “She’s a very inspiring player.’’
And, there’s little doubt that Allison Collins will also provide inspiration. Her coach is confident of that. “Allison will be awesome at Assumption and she’ll thrive there,’’ Guarino said emphatically.