By Jim Sullivan
---- — Maybe it’s the neighborhood.
“My whole neighborhood, we all play sports and we all kind of bonded in that way,” Newburyport girls lacrosse senior co-captain Kate McCauley says of her Turkey Hill neighborhood. “Lacrosse was something different at first, and now I couldn’t imagine not playing it.”
The Clippers have reason to be happy with McCauley, who has been having a good season so far, averaging five goals a game. Most recently, she scored five in the Clippers’ 13-9 victory against Pentucket Thursday afternoon.
“She was really instrumental,” Clippers coach Catherine Batchelder says. “She was the one who got us going on the attack, and it really made a difference. She really helped push us over the edge.”
McCauley has been playing lacrosse since she was in fourth grade along with her current co-captain Jillian Ouellette. McCauley’s father was involved with the youth program and her brother James played as well.
“My brother played, my neighbors have played,” McCauley says. “And just watching them being into sports got me into sports. It’s just fun to be able to play together. Girls and boys lacrosse are so different from each other; it’s just nice to be able to play the same sport as my brother.”
With a practice net in the backyard, that family connection has kept McCauley on her toes.
“I’m really surprised by it,” McCauley says. “I never really saw myself as much of a ball-hog. I definitely like to score. I always like to score, and I think it’s nice that I can finally show my skills and be important for the team.”
Seventh-year coach Batchelder has coached McCauley for the past four years, and says she is her team’s offensive kick starter.
“She’s a very strong lacrosse player,” Batchelder says. “She’s played varsity for four years. She is one of the leaders on attack and she always provides that spark that we need in games to give us the goals that we need.”
Coaching a 3-2 team on the new season, Batchelder knows she will need her upperclassmen to keep things going.
“Our two losses (to North Andover and Ipswich), in my opinion, are very strong,” says Batchelder. “And they are losses we can learn from and move forward from. We are just getting into league play, we’ve only had two league games. And after (April) vacation our league play really sets up. I think we should do really well and we are excited for the rest of the schedule.”
A two-sport athlete, McCauley (who also co-captains with fellow seniors Carly Kouvaris and Meri Adsit) will be playing field hockey at Merrimack College come the fall and credits her team’s current practice regiment and the communication within as the key to their success at the moment.
“We had really strong seniors in the past couple of years,” says McCauley. “So I knew that I had to step up as an upperclassman and help out the new kids as well. (And) as upperclassman working with a lot of the returning players, we all know how each other play.”