After being ranked first in the Big East preseason poll, the Georgetown women’s lacrosse team has to live up to some big expectations. Luckily, the women have some strong upperclassman leadership in junior Sophia Thomas and senior Kelly Barnes, both of whom were named preseason All-Americans and are on the Tewaaraton Award watch list.
Thomas, a junior midfielder from Lutherville, Md., garnered a lot of attention in her first two years, surprising the Big East with a team-high 37 goals in the 2011 season. She also led the team in turnovers caused, recording 33 for the season. Head Coach Ricky Fried credits some of her success to her supreme athleticism. And as if her stats weren’t impressive enough, Thomas outshined the conference as well, grabbing the Big East Midfielder of the Year award.
But her aptitude goes far beyond numbers and awards. “Soph really leads by example,” Fried said. “She plays all facets of the game.”
For Thomas, the awards don’t mean much. “It’s a great opportunity to be put in a position like that, but it just comes down to how you play on the field,” she said of her numerous nods. The self-professed “competitive person” is focused on rallying her team to better last year’s performance.
Fried, for one, is impressed with her work ethic. Even after the accolades, Fried says Thomas “continues to work hard to improve her game, which I think says a lot about her as a player.” As a midfielder, Thomas spends a lot of time running up and down the field, a testament to her strong athleticism. While this is a quality she shares with her teammates, Fried says that Thomas’s leadership position is unique as a midfielder, and that historically the squad has been led by attackers or defenders.
Thomas says that she looks up to Barnes, who exemplifies a lead-by-example mentality to the squad. The senior defender has seen her share of success as well, but she too doesn’t heed it much.
“What people say outside the field, it really doesn’t mean anything if you can’t come and be a good leader and be a good teammate,” the Pennsylvania native said.
Fried cannot say enough about Barnes, especially with regard to her importance as a team leader. He is especially impressed by her growth, and how she has started to rally the other players on the team.
“[Barnes] wasn’t real ‘rah-rah’ or vocal, and she’s learning to find her voice a little and demand the respect from her teammates, not only through her play but holding them accountable through her voice,” Fried said.
Both women rise above their roles as team leaders, and have tried to spread their love of lacrosse to younger teammates. Thomas, for instance, spends time each summer coaching a lacrosse team in Baltimore with teammate Kelsi Bozel. She says it is rewarding to work with the kids, and that it does not hurt for her to keep up with the sport.
“Lacrosse never stops,” Barnes said. “In a good way!” She helps coach a Georgetown lacrosse camp during her summers, and has devoted a lot of time to the betterment of her peers and students.
While Barnes is not sure how she will keep lacrosse in her life after graduation, she certainly knows that it will continue to play a role. “Ricky says it every day, it’s the best part of your day,” Thomas said. “You come out, you get to hang out with your best friends for three hours”. What sets Thomas and Barnes apart is just this—the desire to do what they love better, and with the people they love best. The captains open another campaign with high hopes next Wednesday against Delaware.
Face-off is set for 4 p.m. at Multi-Sport Field.