As previously reported, Portsmouth Abbey's Caitlin Villareal '12 was drafted into the United Women's Lacrosse League (UWLX), the first professional women's lacrosse league in the world. As a member of Boston Storm, Villareal played attack and donned the number 20. The league is comprised of four teams in Baltimore, Boston, Long Island and Philadelphia.
The Storm played nine games this summer, starting in late May and ending in August, and traveled to Boston, Philadelphia, and Long Island. The Boston Storm finished in second place overall, after falling to the Long Island Sound in the Championship Game.
Caitlin Villareal, #20 | Photo courtesy of UWLX
"Playing for the Storm was one of the best experiences I've had," Villareal says. "I was able to learn from some of the best players in the country." The experience differed from college play in many ways, but one notable reason was because team members came from all over. "Some of my teammates were from Baltimore and some from New York, so I only saw them on game days!"
The game itself is also slightly different than Villreal's college play. The rules for the league are closer to those of men's lacrosse, so the game is a lot faster and the ball hardly hits the ground. The ability to move freely and shoot from anywhere, fewer penalties, and the addition of a 2-point shot made for a more fluid game at the professional level. This was an adjustment for some rookies, but Villareal was excited for the adjustment.
The Boston Storm | Photo courtesy of Caitlin Villareal
The Boston Storm had a rough beginning to the season, but was able to battle through, defeating the Philadelphia Force to reach the championship game against the Long Island Sound on August 2. The Championship Game took place in Lake Placid – a place famous for its Winter Olympics. In addition, the Lake Placid Summit Classic Lacrosse Tournament has been held every year in early August since 1990. It was a fitting backdrop for the League's second season in existence – a place where boundaries are broken and miracles happen. While the 16-8 defeat was disappointing, the team was proud of the effort and is ready to come back for its third season refreshed and determined.
For Villareal's part, she is excited to return for her second season with the Storm. The game to her is much more than wins and losses. "After every game, they had an autograph signing session and the young girls were all so excited to meet us. I loved being that role model for them," Villareal explains. "Before, we couldn't look forward to playing after college. Now more girls can dream of being professional lacrosse players, which I think is awesome for the game."
Villareal hugs a teammate in victory | Photo courtesy of UWLX
Villareal coaches girls' lacrosse at the Abbey, and her experience on the field with the Storm will certainly impact her team this spring: "I learned so much from them about styles of play that I can now bring to the Abbey."
The Abbey community looks forward to seeing Coach Villareal in action again next summer!