It took some time for Wheatley’s Sami Rothstein to adjust to the life of a varsity girls lacrosse player as a freshman last season.
She deferred scoring opportunities to more experienced players, tallying a few assists but never quite putting it all together. Then her coaches sat her down and told her that she was allowed to score too, which resulted in season-ending performances of five and four goals.
That was just the beginning.
Rothstein notched a school-record 11 goals in a 19-7 win against Roosevelt on March 27 and then scored nine more goals two days later in an 18-12 win over Sewanhaka, earning Newsday’s Athlete of the Week honors.
Tracey Ueullendahl previously held the record, scoring 10 goals in a game in 1998.
“She’s just letting loose,” coach Terry Grace said. “She’s scores lefty and righty. She controls the draw for us. She gets ground balls and stick checks. Whatever needs to be done, if she’s in the area, she makes sure she’s involved in it one way or another.”
Scoring now comes naturally for Rothstein, a lifelong soccer player who only picked up lacrosse three years ago. The sport is now her main focus, and she spent time during the summer with her club team improving her all-around game.
“I have more confidence this year than last year,” Rothstein said. “I worked hard over the summer, and it’s all come together and worked out for me.”
The improvements have been noticeable, both by her teammates and her coaches. She has 29 goals and eight assists, pacing the Wildcats.
Rothstein plays with the conviction of a tested upperclassmen despite still learning more about the sport each day. Her goals have come in the flow of games, not just on rushes to the cage. She cuts and dodges well and has a good rapport with her teammates, who feed her for easy scores.
“Everything she does, you just notice it,” Grace said. “You see 20 athletes out there and all of a sudden your eye goes to one of them because everything is happening with such an intensity. That’s what she shows.”
That intensity level has the Wildcats off to a fast start. They’re 3-1 after a 3-10 campaign last spring, and Rothstein said her goals for the team are realistic. She wants the Wildcats to simply win more than they lose, and with her scoring at an alarming pace, they could.
As for individual goals, Rothstein’s sophomore season already featured a major accomplishment. But if she had it her way, she’d like to see that same record fall again.
“Hopefully I can beat that, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen,” she said. “I’ll definitely try.”