Ever since she was in middle school, Megan Clements has shown an aptitude on the field that has drawn the eye of coaches.

A strong skill set mixed with a fiery passion has made her hard to ignore during her lacrosse career, and those attributes are exactly what first drew the gaze of the Rutgers University women’s lacrosse head coach, Laura Brand-Sias.

Twice Mercer County player of the year, Clements played a key role as the Bulldogs racked up Mercer County titles as well as South Group II sectional championships in a Hopewell Valley career that ended in 2010.

Those accomplishments only added to the reasons why Brand-Sias wanted the attacker in scarlet and white. Although the results weren’t immediate, they are beginning to pile up. As of April 15, Clements had started in 12 of 13 games for the 9-4 Scarlet Knights. The junior ranked second on the team in goals and points, and third on the team in assists.

“It’s harder on this level to ‘take over a game,’ but she has the ability to do that,” Brand-Sias said. “There have been times where she may start a little slow, but she’s able to turn that spark on and dominate a game from that point on.”

Clements has shown that capability several times this season in wins over Hofstra University, where she scored a career-high five goals, and Monmouth University, where she notched four. The junior attacker said that it’s been tough at times to transition, but it’s a process that she has embraced.

“From high school to college is an even bigger jump than it was from middle school to high school,” Clements said. “The game’s faster and there’s not just one great player on the team, there’s 20 great players on your team.

“Everyone was a star in high school, so you can’t just settle on playing a certain way, you need to get better and better each day because you have to increase your play for you and your team.”

With opportunity presenting itself this year, Brand-Sias and her staff hoped to see certain players take the beacon and excel for an up-and-coming Rutgers program. And so far this season, Clements has been one of the prime examples.

“We have high expectations for the upper classmen to step up when we need them to and she’s done a good job with that,” Brand-Sias said. “We’ve pushed her and challenged her this season and she’s stepped up as a player and as a leader.”

It’s exactly why Brand-Sias became enamored with Clements while scouting a Hopewell Valley High girls’ lacrosse game several years ago. She saw a player who showed the ability to channel what Clements refers to as an “overly competitive, aggressive side.”

“[Megan] stood out to me in that game though with her competitive fire and she was just competing from start to finish,” Brand-Sias said. “She did everything she could for her team to get them the W and that’s something that really stood out to me and something we pride ourselves on [at Rutgers].”

The odd thing of the matter though is that Brand-Sias wasn’t at that game to scout Clements. The Rutgers coach was there to scout the opposing team from Moorestown, not Clements and the Bulldogs.

It was hardly surprising to Pam Edwards, Clements’s head coach at Hopewell Valley, that her star attacker gained favor with the Scarlet Knights.

“She had so much passion and she could ignite an entire team and get that team fired up and willing to do anything to be successful,” Edwards said.

Edwards admits that her staff was excited to get Clements as a freshman—although she spent that year on the JV level—because “on any other team, she would have been starting. That’s how good she was.”

Clements admits that she was an “out-of-control player” as a freshman, but once the coaches helped ease her through the transition of playing high school lacrosse, Edwards saw a player who had a chance to do extraordinary things at Hopewell Valley. The Bulldogs’ coach wouldn’t be surprised if the same thing happens at Rutgers.

“As soon as we got her in her sophomore year, we knew we had something special,” Edwards recalled. “She’s an impact player, and any time she steps on the field, she becomes a game changer.”