Brianna McCaffrey’s hard work propels her into leadership position

The Lady Flames lacrosse team has gotten off to a fast start of 4-2, which is the best start since the program began in 2010.

Head coach Kelly Nangle said the team’s record-breaking performance is because of a culture of nonstop hard work.

“We have been focused on competing every day and getting the full advantage of our two hours of practice. We have a theme about not taking a play off and going hard the whole time, and I think this team has bought into that,” Nangle said.

Brianna McCaffrey, a junior midfielder, exemplifies the Lady Flames lacrosse culture of hard work. McCaffrey drives herself to play hard, whether during practice, outside of practice or on the competition field.

“(I have been) coming out early or staying late to pass around after practice or shoot around, even if it is only for 10 minutes. That extra little work is what has been helping me push myself and really show it on the field,” McCaffrey said.

McCaffrey has already received recognition as the Big South Defensive Player of the Week twice this season.

“I was pretty shocked,” McCaffrey said. “I definitely could not do it without the team constantly pushing me on defense.”

McCaffrey is no stranger to recognition as she was named to the second team Big South Conference team her freshman year and was recognized as the Breakthrough Athlete of Year for the 2017 Flamespys award show.

Nangle said McCaffrey deserves the recognition and wants to see her continue to succeed as a player.

“If she keeps working hard and keeps doing what she has been doing, she is going to continue to improve. The big thing for her this year is that she is going to get the recognition that she deserves, and in my opinion, she is one of the best players in the league,” Nangle said. “I want her to be recognized for how good she is.”

McCaffrey, an interdisciplinary studies major and third year player for the Lady Flames, pushes herself and the team to grow and get better with every practice and game. The 2018 season is McCaffrey’s first as a midfielder; she played her first two seasons as an attacker.

Nangle said McCaffrey has embraced her position on the team, both as a midfielder and as a leader.

“(McCaffrey) has grown a ton since she has been here. I think the most exciting thing about her this year is that she is growing into a leadership position,” Nangle said. “She is leading by example in a lot of ways, and on the field she goes 100 percent at all times.”

McCaffrey stepped up from attacker to midfielder after an offseason of conditioning and training. Nangle said McCaffrey is fully prepared to compete as a midfielder, both physically and mentally.

“(McCaffrey) is able to play midfield because she is in the shape she needs to be in. This year she came in fit and ready to go, and that really helped us and her because now she is able to play midfield and be around the ball at all times,” Nangle said. “Now she is on a lot of coaches’ radars because she is more patient and more fit and she really stands out.”

Nangle said she is excited for the rest of the season. Combined with the team’s hard work and McCaffrey’s encouragement and leadership, the Lady Flames have the chance to go further than ever before.

“I am excited with how we have started and we have crossed a lot of hurdles that we have not been able to pass in the past,” Nangle said. “Our philosophy is work, work, work, and compete every day. If we continue to do that, especially in practice, then I think the wins will keep coming.”

The Lady Flames are looking forward to their second home game of the season Tuesday, March 13, at 3 p.m., where they will be facing off against the Butler University Bulldogs.

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