Isabel Van Wie is a defender at heart. But when St. Dominic girls lacrosse coach Michele O’Brien asked her to switch to midfield for her senior season, she took the transition in stride.
Van Wie, who had a total of 30 goals and five assists in three seasons coming into this season, played like she had been a midfielder her entire life. She finished her season with 72 goals and 24 assists. Her 96 points were tops in CHSAA by 30 points.
Not bad for a defender.
“It was a really different experience,” said Van Wie, Newsday’s Athlete of the Week. “I got to apply everything I observed on defense and everything I saw from attackers.”
If there was anyone on the St. Dominic roster who could make the transition, it was Van Wie. O’Brien said she is a coach’s dream, someone who will do anything that’s asked of her.
And as the team’s go-to player, Van Wie proved her worth. She had eight points in a 19-10 win over Archbishop Molloy in the CHSAA Class A championship on May 16, scoring four times and assisting four other tallies. She also won a title in 2014.
But despite her success on offense, Van Wie’s true passion is defense, a position she’ll play when she begins her career at Colgate in the fall.
Defenders rarely get their due credit. They don’t accrue the same numbers as midfielders or attackers, and they don’t make big saves like goalies. But that doesn’t bother Van Wie.
“I like protecting the goal and being in that position for my team,” she said. “It’s really fun to play for St. Dom’s on the midfield line, but I feel like every good play starts with a defensive play.”
The Bayhawks were able to handle not having Van Wie on defense full-time this season, but that doesn’t mean she was replaceable. O’Brien thinks Van Wie is good enough to play right away at Colgate.
“She’s good enough where she’s going to step on the field and be an immediate contributor,” O’Brien said. “She’s going to have a great college career.”
Part of Van Wie’s future success, according to O’Brien, will be because of her leadership qualities. She was her team’s only captain, and while she can be vocal, Van Wie thinks being a leader is about proving it on the field.
“Leadership is more of an action than what you say,” she said.
Some seniors might not have been as warm to a position switch as Van Wie, yet when O’Brien told her they needed her at midfield, she stepped up.
“She was our go-to player,” O’Brien said. “She pulled every ground ball. She made every great pass.”
All while never getting defensive about her true position on the field.