On Tuesday, Hayley Napier became the fifth girls lacrosse player — and likely the last — in Mount Ida history to record 100 goals in her career.
It was noteworthy for Napier not just because of the milestone itself, or because she did it in the final year of Mustangs lacrosse before the college closes, but because of how many goals she scored in her high school career at GNB Voc-Tech.
Napier entered the final game of her high school career, against Fairhaven, needing just one goal to reach the plateau, but it never came.
“It was pretty devastating for me not to get it,” she said. “I’m glad I got it in college. … It’s a really good feeling. It’s something an athlete always hopes and strives for. I honestly didn’t think I’d get to it.”
The 4-foot, 10-inch Napier entered her senior season needing 25 goals, which she accomplished in 11 games, 10 of which Mount Ida has won. So far this season she’s third on the team in points (35) and goals (25) and is on pace to exceed her junior year numbers (37 goals, 12 assists), but she’s more focused on the team’s record in its final season.
“This is the best season we’ve had in the four years I’ve been here,” she said. “It’s been amazing. We’ve never had such a win streak. We’ve been breaking a lot of records. For us, it’s team chemistry. We all like each other and there’s not a lot of cliqueness. There’s nothing but positive energy on the field and in practice. That’s a key thing for a successful team.”
It’s been quite the turnaround for the Mustangs, who went a combined 9-24 in Napier’s first two seasons before finishing 14-5 (6-3 GNAC) and reaching the GNAC semifinals last year.
“We’ve really built it up over the last four years,” Napier said. “We were pretty good, but we struggled with some of the better teams in the conference.”
When Napier, a Fairhaven native, was graduating from GNB Voc-Tech she was looking first at schools where she could pursue a dental hygiene major, which had been her track at Voc-Tech.
“Mount Ida was my first pick and then I was recruited by coach Nicole (Poli) and it made it much more worthwhile to come here. Lacrosse was the cherry on top of the ice cream.”
Napier scored 18 goals with eight assists as a freshman while the Mustangs went 4-13 as a team.
“I was definitely a lot more timid,” she said. “I was more of an assister than a goal scorer. I liked to hand it off and led the other girls score.”
She missed the first half of her sophomore season with a stress fracture in her right leg, but recovered to score 20 goals with six assists, equally the 26 points she scored as a freshman.
She roared back as a junior, totaling 49 points.
“I came in strong last year because I knew I wanted to prove myself,” she said. “I kept the same motivation from last year to this year.”
Her senior dedication was particularly evident during a five-game stretch from March 20-29 where she scored 20 goals with six assists and Mount Ida won all five games.
“Everyone’s senior year is a little sad when you start,” she said. “After this you hang up your cleats and don’t play this way again. I’ll play in summer leagues but it won’t be the same.”
Napier also benefits from playing alongside junior attack Alyssa Kelly, who has an incredible 61 goals and 32 assists in 11 games.
“She’s the most humble player out there,” Napier said of the Lee native. “She has all the titles and all the records here and it’s amazing. She’s probably the top player in the country at the Division III level. It’s amazing watching her play. We read each other without saying words. One look and we know what to do.”
‘What to do’ is a big question on the mind of all Mount Ida students these days. It’s less pressing for Napier, who plans to transfer to Lasell to finish her five-year master’s program, which she’ll emerge from with a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene and a master’s in management, with a concentration in marketing.
She already works as a dental hygienist at Kids’ Dental Care in Fall River and Middleboro, commuting daily from her home in Fairhaven to both school and work.
“I’ve always been interested in teeth,” she said. “That’s the first thing I look at with people is their smile. I’ve always had an eye for teeth. I loved going to the dentist.”
Author's Note: Unfortunately, I did not have time to look up all the area college student-athletes this week, but I did want to correct an error from last week. Tyler Horton, a GNB Voc-Tech graduate, has a 0.00 ERA, not 7.20 as I reported. That is, however, how many batters he is striking out per nine innings for Massasoit.
Follow Brendan Kurie on Twitter @BrendanKurieSCT. To add a student-athlete to our watch list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org