Sept. 26, 2008
* 2008 Fall Schedule (PDF)
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Division I women's lacrosse in Annapolis got off to a roaring start in 2008. With the sport's all-time winningest coach at the helm, Navy wrapped up its inaugural campaign with a 13-4 record, setting the NCAA record for most wins by a first-year program. After a historic first season, the expectations are high for the 2009 Midshipmen.
While the program's quest for its first league title won't begin for a couple months still, Navysports.com recently caught up with junior midfielder Erin Rawlick to reminisce about Navy's record-breaking first season and find out how the Mids are shaping up in '09. The interview kicks off a series of Q&A features with Navy players and coaches leading up to the spring season.
The Rawlick File
Erin Rawlick - Junior - Midfield - 5'8" - Forest Hill, Md. - C. Milton Wright HS
Rawlick, a First-Team All-Patriot League midfielder from Forest Hill, Md., was a vital part of a dynamic Navy offense that finished second in the nation in scoring (16.7 goals per game)and set a new Patriot League-record with 283 goals. The 5-foot-8 midfielder scored a league-best 91 points on 67 goals and 24 assists and finished second nationally in both goals- and points-per-game.
Well, there's plenty to talk about with the fall season now underway, but let's start with how you got here. What brought you to the Naval Academy?
Well, my father played baseball at West Point and is a '76 graduate, so obviously he was a major influence. He loved his time there and the fact that I went to a service academy has been kind of a dream come true for him, although I kind of went the other way by coming to Navy.
When I came here I was initially looking to play soccer. We have a great program here and I had played soccer more seriously all through high school. I was actually working out with the soccer team over plebe summer when my Dad sent me a letter with the article clippings that Navy lacrosse was going varsity and that Coach Timchal was coming. I actually had brought my stick with me that summer and had been keeping it in the soccer locker room. I thought about it for a while and as soon as the academic year started I made my decision to play lacrosse.
Was that a tough decision?
It was a hard decision because I loved soccer so much and had played it for so long. I feel like in lacrosse I had more room to develop and grow as a player, where as in soccer I think kind of peaked as a player. Plus it's such an exciting time to be playing lacrosse. The sport continues to grow and I think even the best players still have a lot of room to continue getting better.
Before we move on, let's backtrack for a second. You said your father is a West Point grad, is there any rivalry between you two?
Yes, there definitely is. He always tells me he starts itching whenever he wears any Navy gear. I catch him with a Navy hat every once in a while though, especially if its lacrosse stuff. It's all in fun though. We joke about. He really wanted me to come here, even though I know some of his classmates give him a hard time about it.
So what was your initial reaction to hearing Coach Timchal was hired?
It definitely made me realize how big-time it would be. I mean it was great that the program was moving up to the varsity level, but when you bring in that caliber of a coach, you know its going to be a serious right from the start. I had heard her name and I had heard about her obviously, but when I read her bio and realized all that she had accomplished, I was just like 'This is awesome!' It definitely got me a lot more excited. It was clear the program would be successful and I knew that I definitely wanted to be a part of it.
Can you describe what it's like playing for Cindy - in 25 words or less?
I can't even describe it. I have never had a coach like Cindy before. You learn aso much about yourself. She makes everyone laugh. She's just terrific.
In addition to Cindy, you have two former collegiate standouts in Allison Valentino (Loyola '97) and Kelly Coppedge (Maryland '04) on your staff. How has that helped in your development as a player?
Having both Allison and Kelly as assistant coaches is incredible. They just have so much knowledge about the game. And they are still young, so a lot of the time they're out there playing with us. Just watching them play you can really learn so much from what they're doing. They are just amazing players and people. I definitely think they are one of our greatest resources and a key reason why we were so successful right out of the gate last year.
Let's talk about last season a little bit. First off, were you surprised at how well the team did playing in its first Division I season?
I was blown away. I couldn't have asked for a better first season. I really didn't know what to expect going into the year. I thought we really came together and really played with a lot of heart. My freshman season we did really well, but obviously we were still playing club ball. Still we had gotten used to winning, and I think we were a little concerned whether it would continue at the next level. Luckily, we were very fortunate and that success carried over.
Having experienced both levels of competition, what would you say was the biggest difference?
It's definitely the speed of play. The Division I game is much quicker. Players are a lot stronger, a lot tougher and a lot faster. It is just so much different than the club level. I remember playing American during our club year and we got destroyed. Then last year we came back and beat them during the regular season. It was neat to see both sides of it and really see how we grew together as a team.
Most memorable moment from last season?
I'd say it would probably be our first Patriot League game against Holy Cross. We won by one goal in the last few minutes and Caitlin Mandrin Hill scored the winning goal. It was just awesome. For us, a new team coming into the league, to barely pull it out in front of our home fans- was just a great feeling. We had won some games earlier on, but it was a bit more special being a league game. It was a great feeling.
Of course, getting to the Patriot League Tournament was a major highlight as well. It was a really fun experience to be there and to experience the banquet and everything. We had never done anything like that before and being the first ones to do it made it extra special.
What are the goals for this year's team headed into the spring?
Right now, we're just trying to work hard and be the best team we possibly can be. We have a lot of new freshmen coming in that are bringing so much to this team.
Personally, I would love to win the Patriot League Tournament. I would love to get as far as we can. Our main focus is just on reaching our full potential. I think we have the athletic ability, the heart and the skill to really go far this year. Talking is one thing though, and we know we still have to do it on the field.
Thoughts coming out of the first fall scrimmage Saturday against Rutgers?
It was good. We were definitely a little bit jittery with it being our first game. I think some of the freshmen were definitely a little bit nervous at first. I think we showed a lot of potential though. We worked really hard and played really well together. We got a lot of players in and I don't think we skipped a beat - which was great to see.
I think we still have a lot of room to grow and that is what fall ball is about. I think our team is going to be good. We have a lot of freshmen that really are going to step up and do some great things this year.
Would you say the fall season here takes on a bit more importance than it might elsewhere - seeing as you and your teammates are pretty busy during the summer?
I definitely think so. We came out this year working incredibly hard. We have definitely been a lot more focused than we were my freshman year and even more than we were last year. I feel like we've come out working and have brought a lot of intensity to the practice field. I mean that is what the fall season is for, especially for us, because the summers are often busy with military commitments.
Alright the pressure is off, let's try some easier questions. Funniest teammate?
Probably Katrina Nietsch. She's just crazy. She always does these things that have all of us laughing. Especially at practice, she certainly brings a comedic element.
Hobbies or something people might be surprised to learn about you?
I really love to sing. I sing a lot. I was in glee club here my plebe year before I started working out with the lacrosse team. I ski a lot and obviously, I love to play soccer when I can.
You love to sing, any favorites? Maybe a song that you'd sing karaoke to?
Wow, that is hard. Well, I probably can't name a specific song, but it would definitely be something country.
Any favorite artists?
See my favorite is Tim McGraw. I am obsessed with him. If you ask any of my friends, I just absolutely love him. But I probably wouldn't sing karaoke to Tim McGraw. Maybe something by his wife, Faith Hill, though.
Lastly, any suggestions for who to feature in our next Q&A?
Mary Ruttum is kind of my sidekick. We're always together. Our coaches call us "Ma-rin". We're pretty much attached at the hip. Also, she's pretty witty so she would probably make a pretty good candidate.
The Navy women's lacrosse team continues its fall schedule against Villanova on Saturday afternoon. The game will be played on the grounds of the United States Naval Academy, beginning at 12:30 pm.