OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. — The NYIT women's soccer team has a tradition of two-sport student-athletes. Its players helped populate the roster of the inaugural women's lacrosse team in 2017 that primarily included Dowling College transfers.
Now, rising junior Rosemary Mahoney is joining that group of two-sport contributors.
Mahoney, who appeared in 11 games as a defender this past spring for the lacrosse team, intends to play soccer for the Bears this upcoming season. She will back up No. 1 goalie Jessie Sabal and potentially see action at forward, according to head coach Karim Diallo.
"I'd like to be a regular contributor to the team," Mahoney said. "It's been a while since I've played competitively, but the practicing didn't stop. I missed the sport a lot and I just wanted to get back into it as soon as possible. There was definitely a lot of work to do coming back, and there still is. I just miss it. And I'm going to leave my heart on the field every chance I get to go out there."
Other soccer/lacrosse players include Caitlin Appel, Erin Lankowicz and Brooke Skahan.
Mahoney, an interior design major, suggested she was a "far better" soccer than lacrosse player in high school in Methuen, Mass.
"I had been playing since first grade — from youth league to club," she said. "I never thought I'd play lacrosse in college at this level, but here I am. Coach Handras has definitely pushed me since my freshman year, and I'm thankful she gave me the opportunity. She knew my passion and was OK with me going out for the soccer team, which made it all the more encouraging."
Mahoney's last organized soccer game came nearly three years ago, as a high school senior.
"My sophomore year we went 3-9-6. And then my junior year we missed qualifying for states by one point," she recalled. "I was tired of hearing, 'We were so close.' And so was everyone else.
"My senior year I think we went 13-6-1. It was also one of the favorite teams I've been a part of. Everyone had the same goal and picked each other up. We were determined to qualify during the season instead of putting all of that pressure on the last game. We were the underdogs at the time. We lost about nine seniors going into that season and everyone thought it was going to be a rebuilding year.
"We beat teams in the top 30 in Massachusetts at the time — my favorite being our win against a rival town, Andover. I scored the first goal for our 2-0 win, and I still remember one of my defensemen's save on the goal line to prevent the 1-1 tie. It was an early season game, which set the mentality for the team that year. I was primarily a striker, but occasionally played mid, and I was a backup goalie.
"Going through the books, it was the second time the school's program qualified for the state tournament, and the first time we advanced to the next round. And we tied the record for wins."
Mahoney plans to use her 5-foot-8 height to her advantage this fall.
"I guess my height helps out since I'm one of the taller girls on the field and in net," Mahoney said. "I'm also pretty accurate and powerful in my left and right shots and punts. Overall, I'm a flexible player, being able to cover most positions — not as much on the defensive line, though. It's kind of odd considering I primarily play defense for lacrosse.
"I'm excited going into this season, and prepared mentally. Going in as a field player, endurance is huge to focus on, and as a goalie, it's protecting the net and providing a quick transition to the forward and mids. We're a fast team with so many talented girls, with a lot of determination from the past season."
As for playing soccer and lacrosse and maintaining her solid GPA, Mahoney added: "It's definitely going to be a challenge balancing the two and my major, but my coaches and professors are great working with my schedule. So far it's been manageable, and has improved my time-management skills."