From the start, when Campbell River’s Selena Lasota showed up at Northwestern University, the attacker had no problem finding the back of the lacrosse net.
A few years later, as her NCAA career winds down, she has only gotten better. In fact, she’s become one the elite scorers in U.S. college field lacrosse, leading her top 10-ranked team in goals. That her picture was on the homepage of the NCAA’s women’s lacrosse website this week says it all. She is also one of the five finalists for the Tewaaraton Award, given each year to the top male and female collegiate lacrosse player.
She’s been in the midst of a tournament run, hoping to help the Wildcats to a national title. They finished fifth-ranked on the season but after their conference win, they were seeded fourth overall for the NCAAs. (This story went to press before Northwestern’s quarter-final match-up against Syracuse on May 18.) Already, they team accomplished one goal as they bested Big Ten and top-ranked Maryland 16-11 in the conference tournament earlier this month.
“Definitely, winning the Big Ten championship this year was a lot of fun,” she said. “I had never done that, I had never beaten Maryland.”
Lasota grew up playing box lacrosse, and also played soccer and basketball at Carihi Secondary. She spent her time in the Ravens’ system in Campbell River playing lacrosse, making the transition to field lacrosse as well in Grade 11.
“The transition wasn’t too, too bad,” she said, adding the field, itself, was not the biggest adjustment.
“Honestly, it was the stick…. The biggest thing was just the sticks, and no contact. I grew up with full contact box lacrosse.”
As far as moving to the Chicago area to attend Northwestern, that came with a pretty big adjustment. Lasota said she had not even been to the U.S. very often when she moved there for university.
“I think freshman year I was very shocked with the new environment … all of sudden, living in Chicago,” she said. “The practice field, we can see the city skyline…. It’s a phenomenal city, it’s beautiful.”
However, the environment also served as a constant reminder of the great opportunity she was getting.
On the field, she adjusted easily, as she was a starting attacker as a freshman and went on to win Big Ten Freshman of the Year. She set a school record for freshmen by scoring 69 goals in a single season, which also topped the conference that year. She really hasn’t looked back, except for having to redshirt her junior year after starting the first four games but missing the final 17 due to injury. When she came back in 2018 for her third year, she set a career high with 75 goals and then broke that this year with 79.
Northwestern has long had a strong women’s field lacrosse program, she said, so lining up talent has never been a problem, so the team in confident it can compete with anyone in the country.
“We have always had a lot of talent,” she said.
This season, Lasota says they have focused on team chemistry and making sure everyone knows their role and playing as a one offensive unit.
“I think our offence is really calm this year, and I think it’s made a huge difference,” she said. “Everybody’s playing with a lot of motivation to keep going.”
In the classroom, Lasota has been majoring in human development and psychological services, and when she’s done at Northwestern she plans to return home to the West Coast where she will help coach Team BC – where she was recruited by the university. As for her career, she is applying to UBC for grad school where she wants to combine her experience in the classroom and on the field.
“I want to do clinical psychology for athletes,” she said. “There’s a lot of demand and need for sports psychologists right now, especially at universities.”