St. Anthony's Maggie Bill is scary good

St. Anthony's Maggie Bill lines up for a St. Anthony's Maggie Bill lines up for a free position shot against Chatham in the non-league girl's lacrosse game. (April 7, 2012) Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The "Maggie Bill is so good . . . " stories sound almost like athletic folktales.

Except they're true.

Maggie Bill scored 12 goals the first time she took the field in organized competition at age 5. The All-Long Island star's collection of trophies and certificates grew so quickly, she now stashes most of them in her basement. Bill, a St. Anthony's senior, was such a highly-coveted recruit, she committed to the University of North Carolina . . . at the start of her sophomore year . . . while recovering from a torn ACL.

And that's all just from soccer, which might not even be her best sport.

The narrative is similar and, perhaps, even more impressive in lacrosse. Throw in an extra three CHSAA championships, an Under Armour tournament MVP and a couple of All-America selections to start.

Maggie Bill is so good . . . "Sometimes they put us against each other in practice and it's kind of scary," said Friars teammate Kasey Behr, who also is a decorated lacrosse standout. "As a freshman, I was scared of her. She's intimidating on the field."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

So good that even her coach Corinne Lomangino, a former star at Duke, readily admitted, "I would've had a hard time just getting a shot off" against Bill if the two squared off.

Soccer came first -- after some nudging from her parents, Bill said -- but lacrosse soon followed. And it begs the question: Which do you prefer, Maggie?

"I've never been able to answer that," Bill said with a chuckle. "Even thinking to myself, I can't pick. It can never be one or the other."

North Carolina probably felt the same, which is why Bill will play for the Tar Heels soccer and lacrosse teams, both of which are legitimate NCAA title contenders.

But it's March now -- stick-and-goggles season -- so St. Anthony's lacrosse is Bill's sole focus, she said.

And what the Friars have in her is the player rated the nation's third-best junior last year, now leading the nation's third-ranked team, and No. 1 within reach for both.

"I'm really critical and tough on myself," said Bill, who goes as far as keeping notes of her faults in games and practices. "And as a team," she continued, "we put pressure on ourselves. We want to win the championship, but go even farther and be recognized as the best team in the country."

That goal is a possibility for St. Anthony's in large part because of Bill. Simply put, the midfielder has a near-ideal combination of speed, height and strength which causes matchup problems for opponents. Then add to that mix her improved stick skills and, in Behr's words, "extreme intensity" in competition.

Bill is a capable scorer, as evidenced by her four goals and MVP honors in last year's CHSAA AA final and the four points against Garden City. But stats are an afterthought in any evaluation of her. Defense, transition play and command of double teams inside the crease alone make her elite.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"She's a leader, a hard worker and someone who could go without scoring in a game and still have a huge impact," Lomangino said. "She's been blessed with great footwork and top-shelf athleticism."

Maggie's grandfather, Bob Bill, played football at Notre Dame and was drafted by the Giants in 1962. Her father, Robert, played football at Virginia.

Bill's rare free time has been spent training in preparation for this season: extra running, extra gym time, impromptu workouts with her brother Jack. She even practices her shots against the wall of an elementary school near her home in Cold Spring Harbor.

"A lot of the movements and physicality required are the same in soccer and lacrosse," Bill said. "For me, each helps the other. When I play well in one, I feel better and it carries over."

We should probably note here that Bill led St. Anthony's to a second consecutive state soccer championship in November.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

So, indeed, Maggie Bill is so good.

You also may be interested in: