Alison McKay doesn’t necessarily look like the biggest, most intimidating lacrosse player when she takes the field.
“She’s just an unassuming kid,” is the way Polytech Lynn Richardson puts it. “She just snuck up on people.”
By the time McKay was done scoring 104 goals and helping the Panthers reach the girls’ lacrosse state finals for the first time, there was no question how good the junior midfielder was with a stick in her hand.
The state coaches’ association named McKay Delaware’s Player of the Year and made her one of eight downstate players selected first-team All-State for the 2015 season.
After a year that ended with the first all-downstate state title game in the sport, seven-time champion Cape Henlopen had five first-team selections while runnerup Polytech had three. McKay and teammate Jamie Trabaudo along with Cape’s Sarah Tappan and Taylor Gooch were named the state’s All-Americans.
Other downstaters named first-team All-State were the Vikings’ Alexa Woodruff, Elizabeth Frederick and Coryn Cannon as well as Polytech’s Kaitlyn Bergold.
“It’s neat to see it grow,” Richardson said about downstate girls’ lacrosse. “The kids getting exposed to it at an earlier age has definitely helped grow the game down here. In the past it was always the private schools up there (in New Castle County).”
A defensive player as a freshman, McKay came into own as a midfielder in her junior season.
Her goal total jumped from 45 as a sophomore to 104 this season while her assist total went from 13 to 20. And 19 of McKay’s goals came in the Panthers’ three state tournament games.
“She just has become an all-around player,” said Richardson. “She’s great at both ends of the field — offensively and defensively. ... She’s got great skills and good speed. She can run forever. I think she just really gained confidence this year.
“It’s like somebody who plays basketball. They just have that confidence going to the basket. It’s the same thing. She’s just shifty and smooth. She worked hard in the off-season to get stronger and did a lot of things to get better.”
“I just worked on it a lot and played in the summer,” McKay said about moving from defense to midfield as a sophomore. “(At midfield) people kind of depend on you to be everywhere. It was a change from stopping at the restraining line and now I’m going the full field. Obviously, conditioning is a little bit different.”
With another year of high school still ahead of her, McKay has drawn the attention of college recruiters in both lacrosse and field hockey. Division II Bloomsburg has already offered her scholarship money for field hockey.
Trabaudo, on the other hand, has already committed to North Carolina in lacrosse. While she actually scored seven fewer goals this season as a junior, she still collected 68 goals and 18 assists.
Richardson says Trabaudo, who has 187 goals and 51 assists in her career, was every bit as valuable to Polytech this season.
“A lot of people keyed on Jamie and Jamie handled her role really well,” said Richardson. “She was kind of a decoy and it kind of opened things up for Ali. Jamie really matured and I think that was the success of our team, too. Everybody understood their roles and we played together as a team.”
Bergold was Polytech’s third junior named first-team All-State this season.
“She comes from a basketball background so she plays great one-on-one defense,” said Richardson. “She has a great stick. I could really play her anywhere but she accepted her role. Kaitlyn did a really nice job.”
Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or email@example.com.