RADNOR — Lauren Curran realized quickly that her senior season at the Academy of Notre Dame was going to be quite different than her junior campaign.
“Every game there were two or three people on me,” Curran said.
That’s the price of success. Earn Player of the Year honors as a junior, s Curran did, and automatically you have a target on your back. You’re the No. 1 focus on every opponent’s scouting report.
Some players have difficulty dealing with that sort of attention and pressure. Not Curran. She thrives on challenges.
“I just had to dig deep within myself,” Curran said. “I didn’t let it get to me. I was still able to get around defenders or I took it as if there are two or three people on me, one of my teammates has to be open. I was able to use my skills. I didn’t think about it. I just tried to play my best.”
Despite the attention, Curran went on to score 48 goals and hand out 13 assists to lead the Irish to an 18-3-1 record and an 8-2 mark in the Inter-Ac League. That’s nine more goals and two more assists than she had as a junior, and it came against a much tougher nonleague schedule, one that included games against state and area powers Penn Manor, Villa Maria, Mount St. Joseph, Downingtown West, Conestoga, Merion Mercy and Archbishop Carroll. The Irish won all of those games.
In the process, Curran became the first player in program history to reach the 100-goal mark in three seasons, finishing her career with 103 goals. It took Moira Putch, the 2012 and 2013 Daily Times Player of the Year, and Quinn Maguire, the 2016 Player of the Year, four seasons to reach the century mark.
For that, Curran is the 2018 Daily Times Field Hockey Player of the Year. She is the third player from Notre Dame to receive consecutive Player of the Year honors, joining Putch and Katie Gerzabek (2009 and 2010).
“I think that’s what made this year so special for Lauren,” Notre Dame coach Adele Williams said. “She just enjoyed the challenge. The more she got doubled up, the more she rose to the occasion.”
Curran is one of six repeat selections on the All-Delco team, which was chosen by the Daily Times sports staff after consultation with county coaches. Also earning all-county honors for the second straight year were Curran’s teammate Mia Leonhardt; Lauren Devletian, Gianna Pantaleo and Maddie Rehak from Episcopal Academy; and Haverford’s Sydney Corcoran.
The first team also includes Keri Daly (Archbishop Carroll), Olivia DeCain (Radnor), Caroline Kelly (Episcopal Academy), Carly Gannon (Haverford), Page Lowry (Radnor) and Jessica Schneider (Notre Dame).
Curran and the Irish were tested from the start, thanks to the daunting schedule put together by Williams and assistant coach, Jackie Gerzabek. Notre Dame opened the season against Penn Manor, which was ranked No. 1 in the Maxfieldhockey.com preseason national top 25. Curran scored twice that day, including the winner, and had an assist in a 3-2 win over the Comets. That victory vaulted the Irish into the top spot in the national rankings, where they would stay for three weeks. Notre Dame was No. 23 in the final poll.
It began a trend where Curran came up big in big games. She scored three times each against Villa Maria and Conestoga and twice against Carroll. Curran notched nine game-winning goals in all.
“I have to thank my teammates,” Curran said. “I wouldn’t be able to score all those goals without them. They got me the ball.”
Along the way, Notre Dame gained a measure of revenge. It beat Mount Saint Joseph and Merion Mercy, the two teams the Irish tied a year ago, and avenged losses to Villa Maria and Downingtown West.
The season, though, was not without its struggles. The Irish came up short in the bid to win their third consecutive titles in both the Inter-Ac League and Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association tournament. After starting 14-0-1, the Irish went 4-3 in its last seven games. Two of those losses came to rival Episcopal Academy, one in the regular season and the other in the PAISAA semifinals. The other setback was a 4-3 decision to Germantown Academy.
“To end the season not winning was disappointing,” Curran said. “We won PAISAA last year, but this year we beat the teams we didn’t beat last year. It’s sad we didn’t do that in one year, but overall, my high school career went well. That’s all you can ask for. We won PAISAA and Inter-Ac twice and I’m proud of that.”
And now it’s off to Boston College, where she committed as a sophomore.
“I wish I had another year here,” Curran said. “I feel like my high school career just started and now it’s over, but I’m excited about the future. I wanted a school that was going to challenge me academically and athletically, and Boston College will do that. I want to be a physician’s assistant, and BC has a very good biology program and the field hockey team is one of the best in the country. I can’t wait to get up there.”
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