Cross hits milestone, continues family tradition at Upper Dublin

UPPER DUBLIN — Julie Cross had just scored what she thought was the go-ahead goal against Upper Merion when the game was halted.

Cross, the senior captain of the Upper Dublin girls’ lacrosse team, thought her goal was coming back. Instead, the pause was to recognize the milestone it had set.

The marker, her seventh of the game and the eventual game winner in a 9-8 victory, was the 200th goal of Cross’ career with the Flying Cardinals. It was also the latest moment in the Cross family’s list of lacrosse exploits at Upper Dublin.

“It was cool, I looked over at my mom (Cardinals coach Dee Cross) and I was confused because they stopped the clock,’ Cross said. “I thought I was getting a yellow card or something. She said ‘ that was your 200th!’ and I thought, ‘ oh, great, let’s finish the game.’

“It’s like scoring 1,000 points in basketball, it’s just a huge achievement.’

Julie and her three older sisters, Ali, Amy and Kelly all played for the Cardinals under their mother Dee, still the head coach. Ali played at Shippensburg, Amy played at Syracuse where Kelly is currently a junior and Julie will be going next year. Ali played mostly as a defender and goalie through high school while Amy and Kelly each reached the 200-goal mark Julie just hit.

Even though Julie entered the season in easy striking distance of the 200 goal mark, Dee Cross didn’t tell her daughter about it. Julie confessed to having no idea how many tallies she had even entering the season, hence her surprise when the game paused to recognize it on Thursday.

“I figured it out but there was no reason for her to know that, I didn’t want her to play any different,’ Dee Cross said. “It is a milestone but she was more happy we won the game. She was completely surprised.’

Thursday’s seven-goal outburst was not planned, but out of necessity. The Cardinals needed every one of Cross’ goals in their league opener.

“I just felt like as a senior captain and leader for this team, we were so close the whole game, I just wanted to take it to the goal every time,’ Cross said. “It was my motivation, I didn’t want to give Upper Merion the lead.’

As the youngest of four, Julie was the one taking the brunt of punishment in the backyard. She said her sisters used to put her in goalie pads, stick her in net and pepper her with shots. It did show Cross, now a 6-foot-2 central midfielder, that her future was not in goal.

Dee Cross, who also played lacrosse at Shippensburg and is in the school’s athletics hall of fame, never pushed her daughters to follow in her sport. But it just seemed like it was in their genes, and as Dee began her high school coaching career, including a stop at Abington, the girls were around the game all the time.

“I played three sports, so I just wanted to expose them to different sports and they never were made to play anything,’ Dee Cross said. “I started at Abington back in the 80’s and as they were born, they started to come to practice so they were always around lacrosse. I coached (field) hockey and basketball too, but they seemed to gravitate to lacrosse.’

“It’s my family history,’ Julie said. “When I was born it was pretty much ‘ here’s a lacrosse stick.’ I didn’t think I was going to have a season like I did in basketball, but lacrosse is my No. 1 and I’m glad I chose it.’

Lacrosse is a Cross forte, but all four girls were multi-sport athletes at Upper Dublin. Just this year, Julie served as captain of the girls’ soccer and basketball teams as well as the lacrosse team. A common theme was that the three teams didn’t have many seniors, so she had to take up a leadership role. The soccer team won the SOL American title and made districts while she had a remarkable season on the hardwood, leading the Cards to the second round of the PIAA tournament and third team all-state honors.

Both Julie and Dee felt that the basketball team’s success helped Julie blossom as a captain and a leader.

“Last year was a tough year for her maturity-wise and mentally, she had a harder time handling adversity on the field,’ Dee Cross said. “I said to her and my husband said to her that she was going to have to be a leader because she was going to have a lot of younger girls around her and she’d either embrace that or not. Basketball I think it really hit home, the great season they had, she didn’t take it as a lot of pressure on her but as a challenge and the other girls fed off that.’

Every team that has faced the Cardinals in lacrosse over the last decade knows any player named Cross is one to pay extra attention to. Last year and especially this year, Cross has seen constant face-marking and double or triple-teams. The difference between the two seasons is how she’s handled it on the field.

“Last year, I didn’t have the best temper and I was getting a little frustrated so going into the season I knew I had to control that,’ Cross said. “I knew my teammates would have my back so I was going to have theirs

Surrounded by young teammates or players without much varsity experience, Cross had made sure to be a positive influence and full of confidence. She wants her teammates to know she has their back and if they make a mistake, it’s not a big deal.

The season is far from over and with practically their entire league schedule still to play, Cross sees potential in this group. She just wants the rest of the team, especially the young players, to play with confidence. One of the players who has taken to that is sophomore Hannah Reape, a potent attacker who can score some nice goals.

It’s something Cross learned her freshman year when Kelly was team captain and had a similar impact on the newcomers that year.

“I looked at her as my role model, I wanted to be just as good as her if not better,’ Cross said. “I wanted to be that leader like she was. Kelly is a huge part of my game and probably the reason I’m going to Syracuse, but she showed me what I want to do and how I want to play.’

Cross isn’t content to rely on lineage for her talent and the senior is continually learning and adapting. Her height gives her a sizable advantage on draw controls and Cross has taken to winning a draw and charging down the field for a quick score before the defense can get set.

As a midfielder, she’s involved in both phases of the game and has worked on her shooting, placement and passing when attacking the net.

“She has worked on drawing defenders and passing to her teammates, she works on her 1-on-1 moves because she knows she’s going to be face-guarded or triple teamed and gained more confidence going to goal without drawing that foul or charge,’ Dee Cross said. “She’s done a nice job doing that. It’s a mental toughness you have to have because getting that every game can wear you down.’

Just like it seemed destined she would pick up a lacrosse stick, Julie Cross seemed set on course for Syracuse early on. Again, nobody pushed her to go there, but seeing her sisters embrace the school and finding comfort in the coaching staff, the pull was too much. Plus, the allure of walking into the Carrier Dome was hard to pass up.

“I loved the atmosphere going to their games and the Dome is sick,’ Cross said. “I’ve always wanted to play in there. Walking into the Dome is the coolest thing. I gave it a little bit of thought but in the back of mind I knew Syracuse is the place I wanted to go.

Living under the same roof as her coach hasn’t been a big deal for Cross, thanks to her dad Sumner playing the role of mediator. Both Julie and Dee joked they try to keep the lacrosse talk to a minimum but every once in a while, it breaks through. Julie said her mom will ask why she took a certain shot or drew a penalty and Dee said she’ll come up with something new for Julie to try but for the most part, they keep it on the field.

Even though Julie was set on going to Syracuse, Dee said she did suggest it wasn’t too late to try and switch to basketball, though she also added Julie got mad any time she brought it up. While Julie admitted she probably could have done well with hoops if she had gone all-in with it earlier, she’s a lacrosse player through and through.

It just wouldn’t have been right for the last Cross to pass up the family game.

“Each one of my girls has different personalities, there’s different ways to talk to them,’ Dee Cross said. “Julie’s my last one, so I’m getting everything I can in now.

“She’ll make the most of her opportunities in the future and we’re just excited she has them.’

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