Haley McCusker’s job has been to put the ball in the net for the Pilgrim girls’ lacrosse team. This year, McCusker was tasked with doing that and more.
One of the only returning starters from the 2013 Division III runner-up team, McCusker had to help get a new team up to speed on the fly while also switching positions, from attack to center.
She took it all in stride. When the season finally came to a close, she had led her team back to another D-III title appearance and she was the state’s leading goal-scorer, while also crossing the 200-goal plateau for her career.
“I thought we were a year away from getting deep in the playoffs, and they stepped up,” said Pilgrim head coach Tom Flanders. “They peaked at the right time. Without Haley, that doesn’t happen.”
McCusker scored 94 times during the regular season and added four in both the quarterfinals and semifinals before scoring five times in an eventual 9-8 finals loss to Chariho.
It was her presence on the draws that sparked Pilgrim’s run. With the team having trouble maintaining possession, McCusker moved to center. It paid immediate dividends, and it jumpstarted a streak of seven straight wins that led all the way into the state championship game.
“I loved the new position,” McCusker said. “I loved playing there. It was fun winning the draws. That’s one of the best feelings you’ll get in a game.”
Along the way, she scored her 200th career goal while dedicating the night to and wearing the jersey number of former teammate Elanna Zuller, who passed away in a car accident three years ago.
Though McCusker would have also liked to add a championship to her resume, it was quite a career. She’ll play at Coker College in South Carolina next season.