Emily Handrahan’s introduction to lacrosse came as a seventh grader when she began playing backyard games of catch with her older sister, Mary.
“Mary taught me pretty much everything,” said Handrahan, a 2012 Lake Zurich graduate. “I wasn’t very good, and that motivated me. I practiced by myself and played a lot of wall ball.”
Mary Handrahan could tell that her sister was hooked on the sport and would improve steadily.
“She wanted to get better and she did fairly quickly,” Mary Handrahan said. “She had a lot more drive than I ever did.”
Emily Handrahan would go on to star for Lake Zurich, and she is continuing to make her presence felt at the college level. As a sophomore at Division III Augustana, she ranked 22nd in the nation with 41 assists last season. The Vikings averaged 10.9 goals per game — which led the nation — and finished with a 19-1 record and a trip to the NCAA Round of 16.
“She’s an amazing teammate to play with on the attack,” said Libertyville graduate Olivia Mayer, a sophomore at Augustana. “She has a commanding and strong presence.”
Emily Handrahan’s confidence on the field is a result of all those practice sessions when she was learning the game. She said she loved to go on the Internet and watch lacrosse stick trick videos on YouTube.
“I still can’t do some of them, but I would practice and try to get them down,” she said. “It teaches you hand-eye coordination and helps you get a feel for where the ball will be.”
Emily Handrahan said it was exciting to play high school lacrosse at a time when the sport was surging in popularity.
“It was something new that people wanted to try,” she said. “Once they did, they fell in love with it. It’s a fun sport and the lacrosse community is great.”
As a freshman at Augustana, Emily Handrahan scored with seven seconds remaining to give her team a victory in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
“Our coaches would blow the whistle in practice and we would have to tell them how much time was left,” she said. “We got used to [recognizing] the clock. For some reason I was left alone on the attack side of the field. I made one move on the defender, [scored] and fell to the ground crying.”
The Vikings were even more successful in her sophomore season. In addition to her assists, she scored 32 goals.
“I felt like I had to score in high school but in college we have so many girls that can shoot,” she said. “I like passing and threading the needle. Our team is very unique and we’ve really become a family.”