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'Beginner' anchors Navy women's growth spurt (Annapolis Capital)

April 8, 2010

'Beginner' anchors Navy women's growth spurt (Annapolis Capital)
Rawlick develops into one of best

By BILL WAGNER, Staff Writer
Published 4/7/10

Erin Rawlick was struggling through plebe summer at the Naval Academy and questioning her desire to play college soccer when she received a phone call that lifted her spirits.

It was from Steve Rawlick, who informed his daughter that he had just read a newspaper article announcing that Navy had decided to elevate women's lacrosse to varsity status and hired head coach Cindy Timchal away from Maryland to direct the transition.

Rawlick had planned to play soccer at Navy, but tore tendons in her ankle while working out with the team over the summer. Moreover, the Harford County native felt her lifelong passion for soccer dissipating.

"I was burned out on soccer and just felt like I had peaked as a player," she said. "I was excited when I heard that Navy was starting a lacrosse program. I just felt like I had a new lease on my athletic life."

Soccer had been Rawlick's primary sport since a young age and she was heavily involved in the club scene. The Forest Hill resident did not pick up a lacrosse stick until her freshman year at C. Milton Wright High. Head coach Carl Greenberg was always on the lookout for athletes and encouraged the four girls who made varsity soccer as freshmen to give lacrosse a try.

As a sophomore, Rawlick was a key member of a squad that ranks as one of the finest in Maryland public school history. Led by future Division I players such as Kadie Stamper (Johns Hopkins), Katie McHugh (Loyola) and Amanda Barnes (North Carolina), the Mustangs went 17-1 and captured the Class 4A-3A state championship.

As a senior in 2006, Rawlick was named Most Valuable Player of the C.M. Wright soccer team that also garnered a state title and it just seemed to make sense to pursue the sport in which she was most accomplished at the next level.

"I never saw myself playing lacrosse in college. I mean, I had played soccer my whole life while I'd only played lacrosse four years," she said. "It turns out this was the best thing that ever happened. I still had so much more room to grow in lacrosse. I was still really enthusiastic about the sport and eager to improve. Coach Timchal tells us to approach the game like a beginner every day, and I feel like I still do that."

Rawlick has performed like a seasoned veteran throughout her career at Navy, leading the team and the Patriot League in scoring each of the last three seasons. The 5-foot-8 attacker ranks No. 1 nationally in scoring this season with 80 points on 55 goals and 25 assists.

"Erin has been a premier player for Navy women's lacrosse from the moment she stepped on the field as a sophomore," Timchal said. "Erin has gotten better and better ever year, to the point that I don't think there's any question she is one of the top players in the country."

Testament to that statement is the fact Rawlick ranks second among active Division I players with 263 career points (177 goals, 86 assists). Opponents have tried face-guarding or double-teaming Rawlick without much success.

"Erin has always been a pure finisher. She just has a knack for putting the ball in the back of the net," Timchal said. "She has good size, speed and quickness. She can go right- or left-handed and drive from in front or behind the goal. She is a very versatile offensive player."

Rawlick was invited to try out for the United States women's developmental team and was one of 64 players to advance to the second round. Timchal thinks that experienced showed Rawlick there is a big difference between All-Patriot League and All-American.

Rawlick is also a force taking draws, winning a team-high 67 this season and 183 during her three-year career.

"It's been fun and exciting to see this all unfold because I never saw it coming," she said. "It's an honor to lead the nation in scoring, but it would make me so much more proud if we could win the Patriot League championship and go to the NCAA Tournament."

Rawlick, who was also named to the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Association All-Academic team in 2009, will graduate with an English degree then head to Pensacola (Fla.) for flight school with the hope of one day piloting helicopters.

"I was initially a little apprehensive about coming here because I knew how challenging it would be academically and militarily, but the academy experience has been so fulfilling in so many ways," said Rawlick, whose father is a West Point graduate and retired career Army officer. "Everything just seems to have just gone my way."



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