Avon High School senior Hunter McCarthy is fresh off of her second state championship with the varsity soccer team, but there is more to come in her last high school athletic year as she turns her focus to her primary sport – lacrosse.
Two weeks ago, McCarthy signed a letter of intent for Merrimack College of North Andover, MA, where she plans on playing lacrosse.
"Signing the letter of intent is such an accomplishment for me in my life. I started as a freshman in lacrosse not knowing that I would want to play in college, but all the opportunities I have gotten and this goal I have achieved is unreal to me, and I couldn’t be more happy," McCarthy wrote in an email to Patch.
Merrimack was the first school that McCarthy toured and the lacrosse coach there was the first coach she met.
"Early in my junior year I was keeping my options open but I fell in love with the campus right when I was there," McCarthy said. "D2, close to home so family and friends can visit and come watch, and a dedicated coach was something I was really looking for and the Merrimack coach filled that spot perfectly."
McCarthy said she was nominated to play for the Connecticut Super Junior team through the Connecticut chapter of U.S. Lacrosse last year, as well as to try out for "both rounds" of the organization's Lower New Englands team.
As a freshman, she made the junior varsity lacrosse team at Avon High School and played in six varsity games, three of which she started. She's been on the varsity roster since she was a sophomore. She normally plays low attack, a shooter, for the varsity team now, but she's versatile and willing to take on other field positions. In tough games against skilled, fast teams, her coach sometimes pulls her back to defense or midfield to help stifle offensive attacks, according to McCarthy.
"When I started playing the sport there was so much team chemistry and bonding which I feel was a big part on why I fell in love with the sport, McCarthy said. "Also it is a fast moving game where in any situation any team has a chance to win depending on how hard you try."
McCarthy finds team chemistry to be a key to success in lacrosse.
"...I have played on many different teams the past four years, and the team that accomplished more and was a better team was always a team with chemistry," McCarthy said. "I always am looking for a way to bond with my team and bring us closer because how you are with one another as a team off the field will affect your play on the field and its always a better game when everyone is having fun."
McCarthy has considered trying out as a walk-on for the Merrimack soccer team in the fall because she said leaving soccer after many years playing the sport will be difficult. However, she acknowledges that "juggling two sports" could be a challenge.
"Playing soccer has definitely helped me out with lacrosse because the foot movement in soccer comes a lot into play when playing lacrosse," she said. "Also the fast acceleration in both games are very similar which is something I use to my advantage in both sports."
It's too early to tell what she'll major in at Merrimack, but McCarthy said she has a strong interest in sports management or education. She already has exprience in sports management as the Avon High School wrestling team manager.
McCarthy has the winter off from doing a high school sport, but she keeps busy by playing indoor lacrosse on Sundays and working out every day to prepare for the spring.
"But when I do catch some down time I like to go out to Vermont and snowboard, but time is limited with that," she said.