HINSDALE — After Kate Hansbro left the helm of the Oak Park-River Forest girls lacrosse program after last season, Alana Breen had big shoes to fill.
But playing under Hansbro throughout high school gave her the skills she needed to guide the Huskies (17-5) on a run through the playoffs.
Breen is a 2006 graduate of OPRF and played on Hansbro’s first JV team and first three varsity teams. After taking the reigns of the freshman, then the JV, it was time for Breen to dive into the varsity.
“It was challenging just because Katie started the program and she made it what it is today,” Breen said after OPRF beat Marian Catholic 14-7 in the sectional semifinals May 27. “It’s hard learning all of the responsibilities and trying to fill her shoes but she’s been a huge asset and still a big resource of mine.”
Breen served as a captain her senior year and received academic All-American status her junior and senior years. She has coached in the OPRF program for four years and is also the assistant director of the girls lacrosse summer camp.
“I liked the idea of staying in the area,” Breen said about her decision to start coaching. “It was a cool opportunity to stay involved with the school and I fell in love with it my first year.”
Breen said that there has been quite a difference going from coaching freshmen, to JV and now varsity, but she enjoys the challenge.
“I love the competitiveness of it and how it aggressive it is,” she said. “It’s just a totally different playing field and it’s so exciting. I’ve had to change my attitude with the same girls I’ve coached throughout the years but the returning seniors have been a huge help. They really guided me through a lot of the season and have been a big support system.”
Her players are happy to have Breen on the sideline.
“We’ve grown a lot and we’re more intense and more focused,” said senior Cori Conley. “We’re focused on staying conditioned and being all-around good lacrosse players and good athletes. We understand the game a lot better and we know when we’re not playing well and when we have to fix it. It’s been great and we just want to make [Hansbro] proud.”
The Huskies’ season ended in the supersectionals on Friday with a 10-5 loss to host Glenbrook South.
“I’m really impressed with these girls,” Breen said. “It’s just overwhelming and exciting and I keep pushing them one game at a time and taking it one day at a time.”