Women's lacrosse: Soccer star becomes key for LAX

by Matt Couture / Beacon Staff • April 13, 2017

When Paige Haley turned to question a referee on the Emerson women’s lacrosse spring break trip to Colorado, she used a similar tone to her usual discussions with soccer officials.

She was hit with a yellow card.

The tolerance level of the refs is just one of the differences Haley has encountered in picking up her second sport. A soccer player by trade, Haley joined the women’s lacrosse team last spring after an impressive fall on the soccer field, where she finished fifth in the NEWMAC in points.

And she’s played a big role in her second lacrosse season. Haley was named the NEWMAC Defensive Athlete of the Week on April 3. The conference’s press release lauded her for forcing six turnovers in the previous week.

Head women’s lacrosse coach Kat Egizi said Haley has worked hard to understand the sport, and that her natural ability has made the transition possible.

“She’s just such a great athlete that is willing to learn,” Egizi said. “And we feel like as long as she’s getting the right information and the right motivation, she is just so athletic that she’s going to be able to turn that into something on the field.”

Haley said she finds soccer and lacrosse to be very different, but speed has been a valuable skill in both, helping her create distance between herself and defenders. She also tries to find open space in both sports. 

“The one thing that is similar between the two is finding space and taking the space, whether that’s running the ball down the field or passing to someone, or if I’m being passed to,” Haley, a sophomore visual and media arts major, said. “I know I can get to that space, catch the ball, and just keep running.”

Haley does not participate in offseason practices for either sport, focusing only on one at a time. She said that policy largely stems from an abundance of caution with her health, but also allows her to focus on one game and one set of rules at a time. The switch from lacrosse back to soccer is easier because it’s her natural sport, she said.

Haley has already appeared in the NEWMAC playoffs twice, first with lacrosse last spring, and then with soccer in the fall. 

“I kind of got all the nerves out in lacrosse when we made it to the playoffs last year. I kind of got my toes wet a little bit experiencing that,” Haley said. “If people are nervous, I feel like I’ll be there to help them, guide them through and be like, ‘Just another game, just have to play it.’”

Haley’s soccer teammate Jess Frost also joined the lacrosse team this season, and Serina Bailiff-Curtis, who played soccer in 2015 but not 2016, is in her second season playing for Egizi. Frost led the soccer team with 10 goals in the fall.