Signing day: Longtime friends, teammates commit to college lacrosse teams

NEW GREYHOUND, Lauren Jakobs of Naples will attend Assumption College. (Rivet Photos)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

When Lindsey Keenan was in fourth grade, she handed at lacrosse stick to her good friend Lauren Jakobs, and led her to a big field near Pleasant Mountain.

At first, a number of passes sailed past Lauren, leaving her to wonder if she was cut out to play the sport. Lindsey encouraged her friend to keep trying.

Like any skill in sports, it takes lots of hours and determination to become proficient and succeed on the biggest stages.

So, it seemed quite fitting that now high school seniors Lindsey Keenan and Lauren Jakobs shared the same stage Monday night when they each signed college letters of intent.

“To do it with Lauren has been a dream we’ve had. It felt really good,” Lindsey said.

NEW YELLOW JACKET, Lindsey Keenan of Naples will attend American International College.

Lindsey is headed to American International College in Springfield, Mass., where she will either pursue a degree in elementary education or high school guidance counseling, while Lauren has selected Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., where she will study either Biology or target the pre-med program.

“This is a special and gratifying event,” said Lake Region Athletic Director Paul True. “We gleen with pride when someone accomplishes great things. Lauren and Lindsey have worked extremely hard, made sacrifices and have had the discipline to get to this point.”

Both students are three-sport athletes, dedicated students and “extremely” involved at Lake Region, True added.

Lauren is the daughter of Lisa Ryan and Erik Jakobs of Naples.

Lindsey is the daughter of Amy and David Keenan of Naples.

Varsity lacrosse coach David Keenan echoed True’s comment.

“Both girls have made significant improvement each year because they put in the extra time necessary to work on their weaknesses,” Coach Keenan said. “I’m very proud of Lauren and Lindsey and I know they’re going to do great in college, as well. I’m also very proud of all their teammates and truly believe they are just the first of many that will be playing lacrosse in college.”

How did Lauren decide to become a Greyhound?

“As I was looking at other schools, I didn’t feel as home as I did at Assumption. When I went there, I knew it was the right place. The atmosphere, the coaches, the players — I knew I wanted to go there,” she said. “I didn’t want to go to a big school because of our small community. I wanted to be in a small school community that is close knit. I want to play, so Division II is a perfect fit because you can get financial help and I’ll be able to play.”

Familiarity was a big factor.

“I know some girls that go there that are from Maine, so I talked to them. I know the coach has made a lot of improvements in the program (they beat Bentley for the first time) and she is working to improve everyone’s game. I really like the coach and the players,” Lauren added. “I went to a few games. They do have a live stream too, so I was able to watch a few games on my laptop.”

Assumption is coached by Abbey Capobianco-Simone, who is in her eighth year. In 2017, she led the Greyhounds to a 9-8 record, and is the school’s all-time leader in wins with 55.

“It’s a lot faster, so I definitely need to improve my quickness on offense. I am not really sure what position I’ll play — I am more a natural defender — so I need to improve my offense and stay strong on defense, knowing how they play. I did practice with them this past weekend,” Lauren said. “I think I’ve improved by lacrosse IQ over the past couple of seasons here at Lake Region — knowing what to do when I get the ball, knowing when to pass, and getting better at draws.”

As a midfield player, Lauren has scored 99 goals over three seasons and collected 40 assists.

“Playing midfield requires you to be effective on offense and defense. Lauren is an outstanding athlete, and while she is very good on the offensive side, it is her defensive skills that really have her in a league of her own,” Coach Keenan said.

What convinced Lindsey to become a Yellow Jacket?

“It was a difficult process because I was trying to decide whether to play Division I or II. That was the biggest struggle. I decided D-II would be the best fit for me, and I definitely wanted to stay in New England so I could still be close to my parents but also be just far enough away. AIC was the overall best fit for me,” she said. “I love the community around the school. It was so welcoming. The coaches are amazing. The team is so loving. It is such a great atmosphere that I felt right at home. The first time I visited, I practiced with the team. I instantly felt like I was part of it. It was an awesome feeling.”

AIC is coached by Ashley Casiano, who led the Yellow Jackets to their first-ever playoff appearance in 2016 as the club finished 9-9.

For the Lakers, Lindsey is an attack player. She has scored 111 goals and recorded 88 assists.

“Lindsey has a tremendous lacrosse IQ and is the ‘quarterback’ of our offense. She has amazing stick skills and is one of those rare players that actually gets more excited when she assists one of her teammates than when she scores herself,” Coach Keenan said.

Lindsey knows she has plenty of work ahead to prepare herself to play at the collegiate level.

“I definitely feel I need to ‘up’ my game. Being able to play in college is definitely a step up from high school so I need to work on my stick skills and transition,” she said. “It definitely makes me want to work harder this spring so when I get to AIC, I want to make an impact the moment I step on the field. That’s going to motivate me this spring to work harder.”

Each player thanked family, teammates, coaches and travel teams for their support and as keys to their lacrosse success.

It was a special moment for Coach Keenan as he watched his daughter reach her dream.

“It’s been such a privilege to be able coach her and her friends,” the coach said.

It’s always a big challenge to coach one’s own.

“That’s a work in progress. The biggest challenge is keeping the coaching on the field and just being a dad the rest of the time, especially as Lindsey’s gotten older,” Coach Keenan said. “I’m sure it’s not always easy being the ‘coach’s kid,’ but she and her teammates have really been great about it.”

For Lindsey, she wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

“He has pushed me to be the best player I can be, on and off the field. He knows how far I can go, so it’s good to have someone to motivate you and push you to reach that point,” she said. “He definitely likes to inform me what I can do better, but he does keep it positive. He tells me what I did well first, and then follows it up with what I can work on.”

With the big decision out of the way, Lauren and Lindsey feel a weight off their shoulders and a chance to focus on what the Lakers expect to be a very promising spring lacrosse season.

“We’re a real competitive team that loves to win and hates to lose. We work really well together, always lifting each other up and never letting anyone get down. That’s our key to success because instead of fighting on the field, we are encouraging each other to do better,” Lindsey added.

Once these Lakers move on to the college ranks, they will meet again on the lacrosse field — only as foes. Assumption beat AIC this past spring 14-7.

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