SENIOR WEEKS: Finley hoped to help Villa Maria get back to state championship game

Villa Maria Academy senior Bridget Finley has enjoyed an eventful lacrosse career for the Hurricanes, filled with many high spots. After contributing to Villa’s first-ever PIAA lacrosse title as a sophomore, Finley played a large role in the Hurricanes’ drive to the PIAA 2A state final last spring, scoring more than 70 goals and dishing out over 50 assists.

“My ultimate goal this season was to win a state championship,” said Finley. “I know that there are many steps that come before winning a state championship and I was excited to be a leader throughout the entire process. Most importantly I was looking forward to being a part of a team that played as a unit and our successes were a result of how well we worked together and pushed ourselves in practice every day.”

During the offseason, Finley spent a lot of time in her backyard and at Villa Maria’s turf field working on her game, focusing on shooting, stick skills, endurance and overall fitness. When the PIAA spring season was cancelled April 9, Finley had been training twice a week with a trainer starting at 6 a.m., along with going to practice every day.

“It was really tough when I found out that the season had been cancelled,” said Finley. “I never thought that the last official high school game would have been [last] June 8 and it really breaks my heart that my team and I could not get the redemption we had hoped for.

“However, I am so grateful to have played for such a great team and had so much fun. On [April 9], I had this gut feeling all throughout practice that this day would be my last time on the Villa field. I had this feeling that I better hustle and go as hard as I could in every drill because it might be the last time playing high school lacrosse.”

Finley also was looking forward to her role as a team captain.

“Every day as I wake up, I think about how different my life would be if I was still physically going to school and playing lacrosse,” said Finley. “I had been waiting for the moment to be a captain ever since I made the team in my freshman year. We have juniors and underclassmen on our team that have so much untapped potential. I was really looking forward to leading them and instilling in them the confidence to step up and make big plays.”

While Finley contributed to the Hurricanes’ first-ever PIAA lacrosse title as a sophomore, her favorite Hurricane lacrosse memory was her junior year, when she played a key role in Villa’s drive to the PIAA District 1 2A championship.

“I’m most proud of our journey as a team from when we started in March to where we ended up in June,” said Finley. “Although our final destination wasn’t what we had hoped, our journey throughout the whole season said a lot about our character. I am so fortunate to have been on that team and to have been surrounded by some of the most hardworking players. Each day we fought hard and got better which ultimately showed when we won the District 1 championship.”

Finley, a three-sport athlete at Villa Maria (lacrosse, indoor track, field hockey), will be playing lacrosse for Drexel University.

“I love playing lacrosse because I feel that you have so much freedom on the field in terms of being able to score without having a set play,” said Finley. “I really like how fast the game is and how competitive and physical it can get at some points. In the beginning of last year when our head coach [Allie Sweeney] was on maternity leave, our acting head coach, Coach Young, would always say to us before games, ‘You just have to be athletic and make athletic plays.’ I think this really sums it up. Being athletic means hustling and playing hard throughout the game. I think this shows a lot about girls lacrosse because you don’t need all of the skill in the world to play well and step up.

“Along with Coach Young, another of my lacrosse mentors is my PA Express coach, Jen Fanelli. She has been my coach since the beginning of eighth grade when I started playing club lacrosse. Not only does she have a great lacrosse IQ, but she believes in each one of her players and helps them get better every time they step on the lacrosse field. She has taught me so much from lacrosse concepts to life skills and I don’t think I would be the lacrosse player I am if it were not for her.”

Another mentor for Finley is her older sister Erin, who is a sophomore at the United States Naval Academy.

“We have been playing lacrosse together since we were younger and I feel that whenever we go to practice together, Erin pushes me to get better,” said Finley. “She is also not afraid to be blunt and tell me things I need to work on which has helped me and will continue to help me as I prepare to play Division 1 lacrosse in the fall.”

Off the field, Finely has participated in Student Council at Villa Maria for several years, and was elected as the Executive Council Secretary for her senior year. She is also a member of the National Honor Society, Latin Honor Society, Yearbook and Altar Serving. Last year, she joined the school’s Yearbook Club, and was selected as the leader of the Activities section this year.

With all of her activities on and off the field at Villa Maria, Finley has to manage her time deftly, a skill she believes has been enhanced by being a three-sport athlete.

“I think the biggest benefit of being a three-sport athlete has been time management,” said Finley. “Looking back, I honestly do not know how I did it. However, when you are as busy as I was, you have less time to get distracted.

“Not only has playing three sports helped me in the classroom, it has also benefited me physically. While playing three sports I am able to cross train and activate new muscles. Both of the other sports I play have helped me improve my overall fitness and have benefitted me on the lacrosse field.”

Every Villa Maria senior has a Capstone project, and Finley’s was how advancements in technology have impacted forensic science, and she has researched cyber crimes, data analytics and DNA.

“I have always been interested in forensic science,” said Finley. “I had planned to shadow my mentor who works in the Grants Management Unit at the Philadelphia Police Department. Although my Capstone shadowing was cancelled, I was still able to gain so much knowledge during the research stage of my project.”

At Drexel next fall, Finley will be enrolled in the school’s First Year Exploratory Studies program.

“In this program I get to take classes in a few different majors during my first year, so that I can accurately choose my major at the end of my first year,” said Finley.

“I was attracted to Drexel because of the city environment and the co-op program. I fell in love with it ever since I stepped on campus and the fact that I could play lacrosse was a huge bonus! Not only will I be learning in the classroom, but I will also have beneficial job experience when I graduate.”

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