May 12, 2011
Read the article in its original version here.
By Bill Wagner
May 12, 2011
That would be the best way to describe Navy's Katrina Nietsch, both as a lacrosse player and a person.
On the field, Nietsch is a do-it-all midfielder who is equally adept at playing defense, gobbling up ground balls or scoring goals. Off the field, Nietsch is a distinguished student and dedicated Midshipman who has traveled to Africa to broaden her horizons and learn how to become a better Naval officer.
"Katrina is an achiever. She wants to be the best in everything she does and works very hard to make that happen," Caitlin Mandrin Hill said of her close friend and Navy lacrosse teammate.
Nietsch has enjoyed a tremendous career for the fledgling women's lacrosse program. Part of the initial recruiting class of head coach Cindy Timchal, the Connecticut native is a four-year starter and four-time All-Patriot League selection.
Nietsch will depart Annapolis as Navy's all-time leader in games started and ranks second in program history with 126 career goals. The 5-foot-10 senior midfielder was named first team All-Patriot League this season after garnering second team honors the previous three years.
"Katrina is the type of player that does everything and does it all well," Navy head coach Cindy Timchal said. "Katrina works tirelessly in practice and leaves it all on the field during games. She is an outstanding athlete with tremendous speed and excellent stick skills."
Nietsch excels in all facets of playing midfield, particularly when it comes to doing the dirty work between the lines. She has annually ranked among the team leaders in ground balls and draw controls and has accumulated 112 and 101, respectively, in her career.
"Katrina is relentless going after the ball and does a remarkable job of coming up with possession in critical situations," Timchal said. "Katrina is also a big factor on draws and we always look for her in clearing situations because she is so good in transition."
Nietsch has a knack for scoring goals in critical situations, having netted six game-winners in her career. She drove hard to the cage and scored the winning goal with just 28 seconds remaining to give Navy a thrilling 15-14 victory over Colgate in the Patriot League championship game last month. She also fired in the decisive goal in a 9-8 win against Ohio State, arguably the toughest opponent Navy has beaten in its brief four-year history.
"We expect Katrina to make things happen by challenging one-versus-one and creating for either herself or others," Timchal said.
Nietsch is also a beast on defense, an aggressive sort who ranks third on the team with 16 caused turnovers this season and has 38 for her career. Nietsch routinely covers the opposing team's top midfield scoring threat and that means she will spend significant time marking Maryland All-American Katie Schwarzmann (54 goals) in tomorrow's first round NCAA Tournament game.
"I love playing midfield because you can impact the game in so many ways. You are exhausted at the end of the game, but you really feel like you contributed," Nietsch said. "There are three parts to playing midfield and you have to do each equally. If I miss a shot, I want to play strong defense and get the ball back."
Nietsch boasts a 3.4 grade point average as a quantitative economics major and has made the Commandant's list every semester she has been at the Naval Academy. She served as a Plebe Summer Detailer this past July and is the Physical Missions Officer for the 4th Company.
Nietsch was recently presented the Cheryl Dolyniuk Award by the Trustees of the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation. That prestigious honor goes to the female midshipman of the graduating class that has excelled in athletics, leadership and academics during her career.
"It goes without saying that Katrina has made great contributions and a huge impact on Navy women's lacrosse. She has been an awesome representative and ambassador for our program," Timchal said.
Just weeks after playing in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, Nietsch began her summer by touring Africa as part of a mission with Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. She was one of eight midshipmen who spent three weeks observing and taking part in a variety of training evolutions known collectively as Operation Unity Haven.
Nietsch traveled to villages in Djbouti, Tanzania and Uganda and saw how the United States military is working with Africans to develop solutions to their problems abroad, and strengthen security in the region.
"The big takeaway from my trip to Africa is that there is so much more than just the mainstream operations that the military, as we know it, does," Nietsch said. "Some of these operations are not necessarily tangible in the respect that we're seeing the direct results the next day. It is more of a long-term mission and I hope that we will see the results in due time."
Last summer was quite busy for Nietsch as she also took a course at the London School for Economics and marched in Mexico's Bicentennial Parade along with other Midshipmen and Cadets from West Point. She has service selected Navy pilot and will attend flight school in Pensacola with the hope of one day flying F-18 jet fighters.
"Katrina never ceases to amaze and impress me. She is so determined, so driven and so goal-oriented," Mandrin Hill said. "At the same time, Katrina knows how to have fun and can be really outgoing and hysterical. She is always up for a dance party in the locker room and is willing to make a fool of herself to get everyone to laugh."
Looking back, Nietsch said she is most proud of being part of the first class of four-year varsity players who helped establish the Navy lacrosse program. The Midshipmen have captured consecutive Patriot League championships and made back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament, which Nietsch called "just the tip of the iceberg."
"This program is just starting to take off and I have no doubt that Navy will one day win a national championship," she said. "I think the possibilities are endless as far as the potential of this program and it's been rewarding to have helped Navy accomplish some great things to get things started."