There are two ways of inspiration in sports; by words and by example. A leader by example is most often one that lets her actions do the talking. She might not be even be the captain of her team or even the best player, but she is more often than not the hardest working.
In the case of Wendy Stone and Niagara University Lacrosse, she has not one, not two, but three players who do just that. Grace Hunt, Rachel MacCheyne and Alexis Morales are stalwarts for Stone’s squad are comprise the team’s offensive core. As of March 26, MacCheyne leads the team with 28 points while Hunt has 27 on the season followed closely by Morales with 26.
It starts with Hunt. The junior attacker from Marcellus, New York embraces her role as a setup woman, and the team looks to her to get things started offensively.
“Keeping my head up and moving my feet when driving to feed really helps me,” said Hunt. “It’s nice to have really good cutters inside, Rachel and Alexis, we have a lot of girls that are strong catchers and finishers.”
Hunt is in the midst of a formidable season, currently first in the MAAC in assists per game with 2.50. MacCheyne and Hunt are third and fourth in the conference with 3.5 and 3.38 points per game, respectively.
If Hunt is the starter for her team, MacCheyne is the finisher. The sophomore attacker has 23 goals in the still young season. A four-year starter at Webster-Schroeder High School in Rochester, MacCheyne has already established herself as an elite scoring threat.
“Our whole team is working together and meshing, where as last year we weren’t big on assisting each other,” she said. “Our whole team is putting in a lot of effort on offense and it’s a great thing.”
Hunt and MacCheyne have garnered much deserved attention for their play, but Alexis Morales, who is putting together a stellar season of her own, does not take a backseat to them. Morales and MacCheyne are both third the MAAC in goals per game with 2.88. As a sophomore midfielder, Morales has been dominant from the start for Niagara, scoring 24 goals as a rookie last season.
“We do a really good job of pushing each other,” said Morales. “We’re a different team this year, we work together.”
Niagara’s new team-first mantra has paid off this season. Though the team is 4-4 as of March 26, the Purple Eagles are third in the MAAC in goals per game with 11.50, thanks in large part to the trio’s contributions.
According to Niagara University Athletics, the three women also have a chance at making an elite list in Niagara lacrosse history; the top 10 most points by a player in a single season. All three women are on pace finish the year with 55-60 points. Since 49 points are needed to reach the top 10, the team could have three players reach the plateau in one season.
But, even with such an accomplishment within reach, the three stars are remaining focused on their team’s success.
“That’s the best way to go,” said Morales. “To work towards each others strengths, keep the ball moving and playing unselfishly.”
With over half the season still left to be played and a talented offense, lead by the trio of excellence, Niagara could be a major contender this year in the MAAC.
Niagara continues with their season later this week, April 8 as they take on Manhattan College at home at 1:00 p.m.