June 29, 2013

Team USA's Etrasco: 13 going on 13

by Clare Lochary | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

Team USA's Danielle Etrasco hopes to bring some luck to the World Cup next month.
© JC Pinhiero

A version of this article appears in the April 2013 issue of Lacrosse Magazine, the flagship publication of US Lacrosse. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 400,000-plus members today to start your subscription.

It’s called triskaidekaphobia. It’s an irrational fear, based on specious Biblical and mythological origins, but a persistent one. Ships will delay the start of a journey just to avoid it. It’s why some buildings skip from the 12th floor to the 14th floor.

Most people just don’t like the number 13. Danielle Etrasco is not most people. 

“I never, ever thought of it as unlucky,” Etrasco said. “And I thought people who did where just stubborn.”

In the year 2013, the attacker wore number 13 for both Boston University and will wear it in July for the U.S. World Cup team. Etrasco is the first Terrier to make the final roster for the U.S. team, and after a dissapointing season for the Terriers that ended at 6-10, nothing would feel luckier than helping Team USA repeat as FIL Women’s World Cup champion.

“I have very high hopes. If I have anything to say about it, we’ll get there,” she said.

***

In second grade, Etrasco noticed a bunch of funny-looking objects sticking out of a bucket of sports equipment on her friend Jessica Romano’s porch. Romano pulled out two lacrosse sticks and showed Etrasco how to play catch, and neither of them has ever stopped. 

Romano was a captain this year for Stony Brook, just as Etrasco was for the Terriers. They met for the fourth time in their college careers on April 20th.

Etrasco zeroed in on Boston University early in the recruiting process. She wanted to be a major contributor right away wherever she played.

“I saw a kid that I thought could be great for us. I love the way she played, her grit and her attitude,” said Terriers coach Liz Robertshaw, who also is Team USA’s offensive coordinator.

When Etrasco arrived on campus, she asked for jersey number 13, her older brother Frank’s ice hockey number. She didn’t realize BU had a long history of handing down numbers, or that she had just requested the one that belonged to Alyssa Trudel, the Terriers’ first-ever first-team All-American, and Sarah Dalton, the program’s all-time leader in goals, points and draws.

“I didn’t really put together that numbers are such a tradition here,” Etrasco said. “I love how it ended up working out, and I couldn’t be more honored to continue it.

”In her freshman year, Etrasco struggled to live up to the number 13 legacy. She was more of a feeder than a shooter at Massapequa (N.Y.) High, and it took her a while to gain the confidence to go to goal. She cracked the starting lineup and contributed 18 goals, but it didn’t feel like enough.

“I had my mentor, [former BU player] Traci Landy, telling me to go to goal. It took me too long to hear her, and that’s a regret of mine,” Etrasco said. “My sophomore year, we lost a lot of people, and I wanted to show I could go to goal. I wanted to make an impact on this team. That’s why I came to this school.”

As a sophomore, Etrasco blossomed, scoring 57 goals and earning America East Co-Player of the Year honors. She felt ready to take a run at the U.S. team, thanks to encouragement from Robertshaw. 

Etrasco’s FIL coming-out party was the 2012 North America Challenge Cup in Oshawa, Ontario — the same site of the World Cup this summer. She struggled at first to adapt to Team USA’s demanding systems, which require constant movement and aggressive riding from attackers. But she came up big on game day, scoring six goals in the tournament’s opening game.

“The biggest thing that happened in Canada is she felt that she belonged,” U.S. coach Ricky Fried said. “Her teammates rallied around her. A lot of players tend to spiral negatively when things don’t go as well as they think they should, and then they get internal and focus on just themselves and making the next play. She just kind of buckled down mentally and didn’t focus on what had happened. She focused on what was going to happen.”

Etrasco’s sharp cuts and excellent field sense make her a natural fit in Team USA’s offense, which relies on smart passing and cutting.

“She’s an incredible, incredible finisher,” U.S. attacker Lindsey Munday said. “I love passing to her, because you know she’s going to put it away. She’s pretty shifty, too. Her shooting release is something I haven’t seen in a while.”

Etrasco didn’t wear number 13 throughout the tryout process. When she entered the Team USA system, it belonged to veteran attacker Acacia Walker. (Etrasco wore 31 instead.)

But Walker retired from FIL play in July — after 13 years in the U.S. national team system — so Etrasco’s lucky number was available again when she was named to the final 18-player roster in January.

“It’s creepy how 13 stalks my life,” she said.


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