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Women’s Lacrosse: For Blaney, lacrosse is always a family affair

Meaghan Veselik | Wednesday, February 25, 2009

For Shaylyn Blaney, you could say lacrosse runs in the family.

The sophomore midfield/ attack has played in 22 games at Notre Dame, and she’s scored in every one – but her lacrosse career dates back more than a decade.

“I started playing lacrosse on a team when I was in second grade, but lacrosse has always been a huge part of my family,” said Blaney, whose three older siblings all played at the college level. “My dad coached me when I was younger and my mom was my high school coach. They are always there to support me and help to keep my confidence up.

“I never liked the title of ‘the coach’s daughter,’ but looking back I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Lacrosse has helped shaped Blaney’s life since a young age, and at this point, she says there’s no turning back.

“It is hard to imagine my life without lacrosse,” Blaney said. “It is such a big part of who I am. I think that if lacrosse wasn’t in my life another sport would be in its place.”

Blaney has a team-high eight goals through three games for the Irish (2-1) this year, and as a freshman scored 43 goals to rank second on the team.

Those gaudy statistics helped make Blaney a unanimous all-Big East preseason team selection this season, as she joined Notre Dame’s two senior captains, Jillian Byers and Shannon Burke.

“It was an honor to be named to the preseason all-Big East team,” Blaney said. “There are so many great competitors within the Big East and to be recognized as one along with Jill and Shannon was really awesome.”

More than her individual statistics and honors, however, Blaney said she values the strong relationships she has built with her teammates.

“I have countless memories from this team,” Blaney said. “We always have a blast. I have to say some of my favorite memories include our pre-game dancing in the locker room, winning big games and going out with each other at night. They’re my best friends.

“We are such a close group of girls, I would do anything for them. They are all so talented and I learn so much from them,” she said.

She credits her teammates, and even past Irish players, for providing her motivation.

“I also believe that past and present teammates keep my love for the sport alive as well,” Blaney said. “We have such amazing alumni at Notre Dame. Girls who graduated before I even got here still write e-mails to psych up the team before big games.”

Playing against some of the top teams and players in the country isn’t new for Blaney. She was a four-time letter winner in both lacrosse and field hockey at her New York high school, and she was also a three-time U.S. Lacrosse All-American.

In 2007, Blaney helped the U.S. Under-19 team to a gold medal, scoring 16 goals, fourth-most on the team. She was also named an Under Armour All-American, along with current teammates Kailene Abt and Jackie Doherty.

But Blaney’s past success hasn’t stopped her from continuing to set goals for improvement.

“I would really like to get more assists than I did last season and also have at least one goal in every game,” Blaney said. “Every year our [team] goals for the season are to win the Big East and a National Championship. It isn’t easy. There are a lot of great teams in the country.

“I think that this year we have a really good chance of winning the Big East and being contenders for a National Championship.”