Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/27/09
Courtesy of suburbanonesports.com
Lauren McDermott scores goals in bunches.
Dianna Milano has made a career out of stopping players like McDermott.
Both North Penn seniors recently inked their names on letters of intent to accept scholarships to play lacrosse at the collegiate level. McDermott will be playing at LaSalle University while Milano is heading for Quinnipiac University.
“Lauren and Dianna got to this place a little bit differently,” Maiden coach Jami Wilus said. “Lauren will be a four-year starter and obviously has continued to progress throughout the years. She’s an attacker and a very dynamic player, and I know the LaSalle coaches are very happy to have a player of her potential going there.
“Dianna started off with us as a junior varsity player in 10th grade but has worked extremely hard to improve throughout the years. She’s gotten to a great place. They both have signed on with D-1 schools, which shows the time they’ve put in not only in the season but in the offseason, representing North Penn and also themselves very well.”
Last spring, McDermott scored a team-high 86 goals and handed out 23 assists for a total of 109 points. She also had 52 draw controls, 38 ground balls and nine caused turnovers for the National Conference co-champion Maidens.
“She’s so dynamic on the field,” Wilus said. “Every college coach that I talked to was just amazed at how she could handle the ball on her stick and also move her feet as quickly as she wanted them to go.
“She’s a great scorer, but Lauren is also very unselfish – almost to a fault sometimes because she wants to get everyone else involved when she really has the ability to take it one-on-one.”
McDermott saw significant varsity playing time as a freshman and earned a starting spot as a sophomore. Then came a breakout junior season.
“There were always people ahead of her that we relied on offensively,” Wilus said. “Last year, when Julie Mineweaser got hurt, we really saw the Lauren McDermott that we think of today.”
McDermott didn’t start playing lacrosse until seventh grade.
“Before that, everything was soccer,” she said. “I wanted to play soccer in college.
“In ninth grade, I decided to play lacrosse for the high school, and everything changed.”
She admits her grades ‘weren’t that great’ back then, but that also changed.
“I saw my dream of playing Division I in college become more realistic, and I really buckled down and was on the honor roll every single marking period,” McDermott said.
McDermott, who plans to major in finance, chose LaSalle over Temple and St. Joe’s, and the selection marked the end of a stressful recruiting war.
“During the summer, I would practice for my club team and then go home and call a coach or go home and e-mail a coach,” she said. “Finally, when I made my decision – I’m pretty picky, but I knew it was right.
“I felt really at home at LaSalle. It was a smaller campus. It’s a great academic school, and that fact that I get to play Division 1 lacrosse there is an awesome privilege.”
McDermott will see some familiar faces at LaSalle where she will be joining North Penn alums Ali Herman and Sara Ciaverelli, who are freshmen this year.
“They (the Explorers) weren’t that great last year, but they got a new coach,” McDermott said. “They’re building up to be a great team, and coming from North Penn, I’ll be ready for the challenge.”
For Milano, the road to a collegiate scholarship was decidedly different. A jayvee player until she earned a starting spot last year, the senior defensive back emerged as a legitimate D-1 prospect this past summer.
“Seeing Dianna progress from jayvee to a starting role last year – not taking a backseat, but we had some other D-1 players where she was able to just kind of follow their lead,” Wilus said of Milano’s junior season. “This summer I saw her turn an about face, and she really became a leader on our team in the off-season workouts.”
Milano, who has been playing sports since she was four years old, seized the moment when given an opportunity to play.
“I just always loved lacrosse, and I worked really hard,” she said. “I never really wanted to sit on the bench. If I was going to be there, I was going to play.
“I just always loved the competition. If there was a spot open, I was going to get it.”
Milano found a home on the defensive end of the field where, as a junior, she had 43 ground balls, 11 caused turnovers and nine draw controls.
“Everything works as a team,” she said of playing defense. “It’s a unit. It’s not one person. Everything depends on the slide. You have to be talking constantly, and I talk a lot, so that works for me. It’s just a team unit, and I like that.”
Signing to play at Quinnipiac is the culmination of a dream.
“It was hard,” she said of the recruiting process, “It was overwhelming at times. I kept saying, ‘One school will pop up, and it will have everything you want, and it will work.’
“The beginning of my lacrosse road was a little rocky. We had morning practices, and I couldn’t handle it. It was too early. To have it end like this is awesome.”
Milano will major in occupational therapy.
“It had absolutely all the programs I wanted,” she said of Quinnipiac. “I talked to the coach, and I loved it. It’s honestly the absolute perfect fit for me. I couldn’t ask for anything better.
“Playing at North Penn has made me love lacrosse so much. I can’t picture myself not playing for the next four years.”
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