Former Ledyard lax standout Scahill blocks out distractions, focuses on championship hunt

Brooke Scahill, the former Ledyard star who has thrived during her two seasons with the Mount Ida College women's lacrosse program, is being forced to look for a new school for her senior season after learning the Division III college will close after the spring semester. (Photo courtes of Mt. Ida athletics)
Brooke Scahill, the former Ledyard star who has thrived during her two seasons with the Mount Ida College women's lacrosse program, is being forced to look for a new school for her senior season after learning the Division III college will close after the spring semester. (Photo courtes of Mt. Ida athletics)

Brooke Scahill found a comfortable college home and a welcoming, warm family in her women's lacrosse team at Mount Ida College.

The small school atmosphere suits Scahill better than the University of New Hampshire, where she spent her freshman year before transferring.

She's fitting in nicely on the field as well. The former Ledyard High School standout is one of the top midfielders in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference and second-leading scorer for the Mustangs.

All that makes the recent shocking news that Mount Ida is closing at the end of the spring semester that much more painful. UMass Amherst has reached an agreement to acquire the private school's campus in Newton, Mass.

Totally blindsided by the announcement, Scahill, a junior, is still trying to figure out what she'll do next school year.

Scahill and her teammates already have shifted their focus on making the Division III program's last season a great one.

"It's pretty frustrating and difficult to come to terms with, especially playing here," Scahill said on Wednesday. "I've gotten so close to the girls on my team. It's going to be weird not being able to play with all of them next year.

"We're definitely still focusing on what's to come for the rest of the season and not trying to dwell on that. We talked about it the first day when we found out about it. ... The second we start practicing or we have a game, as weird as it is, it is really easy for us to block it out because we're so focused on our season."

Scahill almost never played lacrosse in college.

An all-state selection at Ledyard, Scahill decided to attend UNH, but decided during her freshman year the school wasn't for her ... and that she badly missed lacrosse.

"It took me not playing to realize that I actually missed the sport and that I wanted to keep playing," Scahill said. "Some of my friends play lacrosse in college and I would hear things about them playing and see pictures, and I felt like I was missing out on something."

Mount Ida was a perfect fit for her. She liked the fact that the school is located in the Boston suburbs and has a small community. And lacrosse coach Nicole Poli welcomed her with open arms.

There was an adjustment period from year layoff, but Scahill still finished with 55 goals and 20 assists in 19 games last season and earned All-GNAC second team honors.

Scahill has elevated her game this season, forming a lethal combination with teammate Alyssa Kelly, the school's career point leader.

Eleven games into the season, Scahill already has 44 goals and 30 assists, just one point shy of matching last year's total of 75 points. Her next goal will be the 100th of her career.

During one impressive three-game stretch, Scahill had 14 goals and 19 assists and set the program's single-game record for points by piling up 13 (five goals, a school-record tying eight assists) in a 23-12 rout of Wheelock on March 29.

"I definitely feel more comfortable this year, especially being my second year," Scahill said. "Last year, I didn't fully know what to expect. I guess I was a little bit more nervous and a little bit more timid. ... Now I'm not really afraid to try new things on the field and feel I have people supporting me."

The Mustangs (10-1) are in hot pursuit of their first GNAC regular season title. With four games remaining, they're tied for first with Johnson & Wales, both at 6-0. The two teams meet on April 21.

Scahill credits the program's family atmosphere — only 14 players on the roster — for Mount Ida's success and teamwork.

"Because this is our last season, we're giving it our all," Scahill said. "Some people aren't going to be playing lacrosse next year where they go, so everyone is giving it 110 percent for the rest of the season and prove that we can win a championship."

With help from her parents, Scahill is exploring all her options. UMass Dartmouth, which has announced it will accept Mount Ida students in good academic standing, is one possibility.

"Seeing as I just found out a few days ago, I'm not quite sure what I plan on doing yet," said Scahill, a business administration major. "It's going to be sad to be at another school next year. But I'm really happy with how these last two years went."

g.keefe@theday.com

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