By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 8/29/31
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy senior Mikaela Watson admits she had much to prove heading into the 2016 lacrosse season – especially to herself.
“I definitely think that I met my goals this year,” she said. “In past seasons had some injuries and I started getting really frustrated because I wasn’t able to play to my potential. Our coaches are always saying they wanted us to come off the field and feeel we did everything I could.
“I wasn’t feeling that way, but this year I felt good after the season.”
Watson had every right to feel good after the 2016 season. She was named the MVP of the Inter-Ac League after scoring 91 goals and collecting 126 draw controls and also was named a US Lacrosse All-American and Academic All-American. She also led the Blue Devils to a 15-7 season, for their highest win total in 12 years.
Watson’s accomplishments in 2016 could back that up. The Stanford signee was a US Lacrosse All-American, an Academic All-American (with a 4.19 GPA), and the All-Inter-Ac League MVP. She had 91 goals and 126 draw controls and led the Blue Devils to its highest winning season in more than 10 years with a 15-7 record.
Now, her latest honor is the Phillylacrosse.com co-Player of the Year (shared with Conestoga’s Monica Borzillo).
“I wanted to have my best season and I put in as much work in the off-season as i could,” said Watson, who had tendinitis and a concussion in previous seasons. “I came into the year in the best shape in all my high school seasons and put in a lot of time on my stickwork and further developing the individual skills. I also worked on being more aggressive.”
Watson, a team co-captain, said her role as a scorer and draw specialist was not as important as her job as a leader for a team with many young players.
“We had quite a few freshmen come in and the co-captains decided we really wanted to make sure we had an inclusive team and that all those freshmen felt like they could try their hardest without feeling like they were stepping on returning players’ feet,” Watson said. “That helped and once we started playing we didn’t feel any type of divide we might have felt other years. It felt like one team that was really together and and we had a great season.”
Springside CHA coach Allison Thomas said Watson did everything for the Devils in 2016.
“Mikaela is such an outstanding player because she has everything necessary for the highest levels of lacrosse,” said Thomas. “She’s a huge threat on the draw; she consistently gets better and works on her fundamentals outside of practice. She can score, assist, and get crucial ground ball controls, and caused turnovers in every game.
“Mikaela is dedicated to improving her game but also improving others.”
Thomas said Watson’s leadership was a key in the team’s success.
“Mikaela is as humble as they come,” said Thomas. “She cares more about her teammates and the well being of the team than her own play. There have been multiple times where as her coach I had to say, ‘Worry about what you can do in this moment versus helping others.’
“Her teammates look up to her as another coach on the field. She can lead by example but also can be vocal in a way that is mature and influences others. Mikaela is a remarkable student as well and is consistently receiving awards and high honors. She never complains and remains poised and enthusiastic with all that she does.”
The season’s highlight for Springside Chestnut Hill Academy was a stunning 15-8 win over Episcopal Academy which cost EA a tie for the Inter-Ac title with Agnes Irwin. That win came shortly after the Devils were crushed by Agnes Irwin, 20-2 and had fallen to Penn Charter, 12-6.
“That feeling after the 20-2 loss was the lowest I think I ever felt coming out of a game,” said Watson. “It felt like a mental beating. After that game. Coach Allison took us aside and we agreed to flush that out. We wiped it out of our memory and went into the Episcopal game feeling like we had nothing to lose.
“We started on a roll and got a five-goal lead. We were getting draws and possessing the ball and not forcing it while causing turnovers on defense. It just felt like everything was clicking and everyone played to their potential. It was the most fun I ever had playing.”
Watson, who also was yearbook editor for two years and a member of Student Council for two years as well as standout field hockey player, said attending a small private school helped her become a well-rounded student athlete. She has a love of art and sculpture and will enter Stanford in several weeks undecided but full of ideas. Currently, she is coaching with Quaker City Lacrosse, where she first learned the game.
“”Me and Elsa (Rall) and Natalie (Schwartz) started together and we felt like sisters by the time we graduated,” said Watson. ‘I loved it. From the beginning I always felt like I had the need to achieve.”