After transferring, Bow graduate helps Merrimack women’s lacrosse win first NE-10 championship

  • Bow’s Taylor Darrell, a sophomore midfielder for the Merrimack College women’s lacrosse team, carries the ball during a March 9 game against Southern Connecticut at Duane Stadium in North Andover, Mass. Darrell was named to the Northeast 10 Conference All-Tournament team after she scored three goals in the semifinals against New Haven and three more in Merrimack’s 10-9 championship win against LeMoyne, the top-ranked team in Division II, on Sunday in Syracuse, N.Y.  JIM STANKIEWICZ / Courtesy of Merrimack College Athletics

  • Bow’s Taylor Darrell, a sophomore midfielder for the Merrimack College women’s lacrosse team, gets ready to pass during a March 9 game against Southern Connecticut at Duane Stadium in North Andover, Mass. Darrell started her college career at Division I Delaware before transferring to Merrimack this year. Darrell finished the season with 24 goals, the fourth highest total on the team. JIM STANKIEWICZ/ Courtesy of Merrimack College Athletics

  • Bow’s Taylor Darrell, a sophomore midfielder for the Merrimack College women’s lacrosse team, makes a pass during a March 9 game against Southern Connecticut at Duane Stadium in North Andover, Mass. Darrell was fifth on the team in points with 33 and scored three goals in Merrimack’s 10-9 win against LeMoyne, the No. 1 team in Division II, in the Northeast 10 Conference Tournament final on Sunday in Syracuse, N.Y. JIM STANKIEWICZ / Courtesy of Merrimack College Athletics

Monitor staff
Published: 5/9/2019 8:05:32 PM

Bow’s Taylor Darrell scored the opening goal of the Northeast-10 Conference Tournament championship on Sunday. But one wasn’t nearly enough.

“Scoring the first goal of the game was such a huge adrenaline rush, and you just get more confidence and more momentum,” said Darrell, a sophomore midfielder for the Merrimack College women’s lacrosse team. “Having your teammates all come together and hugging after every goal, and just hyping each other up, it’s the best feeling in the world.”

After scoring just 25 seconds into the game in Syracuse, N.Y., Darrell got to experience that “best feeling in the world” when she scored again in the fourth minute. The 2017 Bow High grad added a third goal with 5:27 left in the first half, and Merrimack went on to beat LeMoyne, the top-ranked team in Division II, 10-9, to claim the first conference championship in program history.

Darrell also scored three goals in Merrimack’s 15-11 semifinal win against New Haven and was rewarded for her efforts with a spot on the NE-10 All-Tournament team. The Warriors, however, were not rewarded with a spot in the D-II NCAA tournament, despite winning their conference tournament and knocking off No. 1 LeMoyne in the final and No. 2 Adelphi, 16-14, in the quarterfinals.

There are no automatic bids for conference champions in D-II, which has a small, 16-team national tournament. Merrimack’s 11-8 overall record kept them on the bubble and out of the brackets, and it was tough for the Warriors to see both LeMoyne and Adelphi get invited to the dance after they had just beaten both teams.

“On the bus on the way home from Syracuse we were all on our computers waiting to see if we were going to get a bid, and our hearts were pounding because we weren’t sure what teams would be taken or how many teams from our conference,” Darrell said. “It just kind of stinks because I feel like the best team is the one that wins at the end, and they deserve to compete against teams from other conferences for a bigger title.

“We just wanted to keep going. We were on such a good streak of really coming together and playing for each other. And we had just beaten the No. 1 team in the country, so we had this feeling that we could win it all.”

Missing out on the NCAA tourney was a disappointment, but it was still a great season and year for Darrell at Merrimack, which is just over the New Hampshire border in North Andover, Mass.

Darrell grew up around the game, watching her older sister Sherry star for Bow and play at Southern New Hampshire University, and being coached by her father, Rob. Taylor dreamed of playing Division I college lacrosse and committed to D-I Delaware during the winter of her sophomore year at Bow High.

But Delaware wasn’t the right fit for Darrell. She felt far from home, didn’t connect with the coaching staff and didn’t get the on-field opportunities she expected, playing in just two games. So, she decided to transfer to Merrimack and the fit has been perfect.

“I find myself to be very reserved at first, but honestly, out of all the teams I’ve been on, this (Merrimack) team has been the most welcoming, the most kind, the most open team to me,” Darrell said. “We’re so close and such a family. I don’t think I’ve made so many new friends so fast before.”

Darrell started her first game in a Warriors uniform and wound up starting 17 of Merrimack’s 19 contests. She finished fourth on the team in goals (24) and shots (59), fifth in points (33) and assists (nine) and seventh in ground balls (17).

The Warriors stumbled down the stretch of the regular season, losing three of their final four games to go 8-8. That meant the No. 7 seed in the conference tournament and a trip to Adelphi, a team Merrimack had lost to on April 6, 15-10, and had never beaten in its history. But the Warriors traveled to Garden City, N.Y., for the rematch and pulled out a 16-14 win against the team that was ranked second in the conference and all of D-II.

“Nobody expected us to win at Adelphi, but after we beat them, we all felt like we could keep going,” Darrell said.

They did just that with their 15-11 semifinal win against No. 19 New Haven in Syracuse, site of the final four and home of LeMoyne, Merrimack’s opponent in the final. Playing on the Dolphins’ home field may have been a disadvantage for the Warriors, but it added to the atmosphere.

“The scene was amazing. There were so many fans there, and from both teams. I mean our parents are extremely supportive, it’s just crazy,” Darrell said. “After every goal you just hear yelling and a big uproar around you. It was a lot to take in, but it was a really good experience because I’ve never had that many fans watch me play a lacrosse game before.”

Darrell finished her last final exam on Tuesday and is home in Bow for the summer, which she’ll spend coaching in the New Hampshire Tomahawks club lacrosse program. There won’t be as many people watching the Tomahawks as there watching the NE-10 final, but the experience may be just as rewarding.

“I always knew that I wanted to coach, ever since my dad coached me when I was little and I watched my older sister play,” Darrell said. “I started coaching with a few winter clinics for the Tomahawks during my senior year in high school, and then last summer I coached girls going into seventh grade. It was the most fun experience I could have had. I could really see the girls improve, and I became close with them over the summer, it was awesome.”

Coaching also helped Darrell when it was her time to play.

“You get to see the game from a different perspective,” she said. “When you’re always playing it’s harder to see the big picture. It’s really hard to be in the coaching position, to be honest, but it gives you a different point of view.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341 or tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20)




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