Kaitlyn Larsson remembers exactly how she felt the first time she stepped into the cage.
The Garden City product, who was a goalkeeper in soccer and a shortstop in softball, had been asked repeatedly by teammate Devon Heaney’s father, Matt, to take a chance at being a goalie in lacrosse, a sport she had never played.
“He kept asking me to try, so I asked my mom and she let me,” recalled Larsson on Tuesday. “As soon as I took some shots I knew I wanted to switch from softball to lacrosse.”
Still, it took Larsson five years before she finally got her chance to be the starting goalie for the Trojans varsity lacrosse team as a senior. She has certainly made the most of her only season as a starter. Larsson was named both All-County and All-American at the Nassau girls lacrosse Coaches Association Awards Dinner on Tuesday.
“I was surprised. It was a huge honor,” said Larsson, Newsday’s Athlete of the Week. “I can’t thank my coaches and teammates enough.”
Larsson helped the defending state Class B champs with a nine-save performance Sunday in a 12-6 win against Eastport-South Manor in the Long Island Class B title game.
The Trojans trailed at halftime 6-5, but Larsson made five second-half saves as ESM was shut out in the second half. Garden City (18-1) takes on Yorktown in a state semifinal at 9 a.m. Friday at SUNY-Cortland.
“She’s a tremendous athlete, intelligent, and the type person you want in both [the soccer] goal and the [lacrosse] cage,” Trojans girls lacrosse coach Diane Chapman said. “She was able to pick up the game with her natural, athletic ability both in and out of the cage.”
That ability makes Larsson — who started every game this season and recorded 146 saves — a sight to be seen both in practices and games. Opponents scored six or fewer goals in 11 games this season.
“She’s like another defender out there,” Trojans senior Kelly George said. “She’s not afraid to come out of the net to challenge a shooter.”
She’s also not afraid to challenge herself, either.
“From moment I decided to take [lacrosse] seriously,” Larsson said, “it’s been a lot of hard work.”
She also had her share of injuries, mostly from soccer. Larsson said she suffered a concussion as a sophomore, and a broken wrist as a junior, but through it all she has battled and persevered to where she is. The Loyola (Md.) commit also credits her defense, including Heaney, Deanna Weisenburger, Katherine Galzerano and Catherine Conway.
“We were hoping that she would step up, and she definitely came in strong and did better than we anticipated,” said Chapman about Larsson. “We knew she’d be good, but she’s played beyond our expectations.”