You had to figure Notre Dame High’s Lauren Kiszely had some pretty good lacrosse talent judging by her sophomore season, in which she had 47 goals and 31 assists as the Irish’s third or fourth option.
“She really thrived in that situation and had a really nice sophomore year,” coach Bryan Fisher said. “Going into this year as a junior, we really expected her to put up big numbers.”
Those expectations panned out nicely, as the Robbinsville resident tallied 64 goals and 62 assists in helping Notre Dame to a second straight Mercer County Tournament title and 17-3 record. The Irish reached the NJSIAA South Jersey Group III semifinals before dropping an 8-7 heart-breaker to Seneca.
Kiszely led the Irish in assists and was second in goals to Olivia Cleale (67), as the two formed a double-pronged attack.
“Last year, she kind of broke out on to the scene,” Fisher said. “This year her and Olivia were just a dynamic, one-two combo. They really had a nice rapport with each other, and I know she’s gonna miss Olivia next year.”
Kiszely set no numerical goals for herself, only team goals.
“My goal was to help my team any way possible back to the MCT title and to advance in states,” she said. “We accomplished many of our goals this season with many obstacles and I couldn’t be more proud of my team for how this season turned out.”
The highlight was winning a second straight county title, and the most memorable win in that run was an 8-7 thriller over Lawrenceville in the semifinals. Kiszely scored the game-winning goal with less than a second left to play.
“The biggest thrill for me was definitely that win,” she said. “Coach Fish had set up a play, and I was not expecting to get the ball. But the way it happened I did get it and had about five seconds left to shoot. By the time I started dodge and get the ball in the back of the net there was .9 seconds left in the game. It felt great to get that win since we weren’t favorited by a lot of people to win.”
“That was a huge moment and a great memory for her and all her teammates,” Fisher said.
An all-around athlete who also plays volleyball and basketball for Notre Dame, Kiszely began playing lacrosse in the Robbinsville Recreation program in second grade. She lasted until sixth grade before taking a break, and then decided to pick it up again in ninth grade.
“I don’t remember much from when I started but when I came back freshman year it definitely helped that I had a couple years of experience,” Kiszely said.
She played on the JV team as a freshman, but Fisher could see that there was potential.
“I knew that she was a super athlete,” the coach said. “But could she become a great lacrosse player? That was always the question. You love working with athletes and now it’s like ‘OK, what are they gonna do?’ She works hard in the off-season, she plays club lacrosse, she takes it seriously.”
During her sophomore year, Kiszely not only showed that she could score goals, but that she could score them when the pressure was on. In a state game against Allentown, the Redbirds shut down the Irish’s top two scorers, and Kiszely stepped up to score six goals.
“She was asked to basically lead us,” Fisher said. “Even their coach was like, ‘Wow, we didn’t think she could do that.’ That’s why I knew she was ready to take the next step. I knew she could do it after that game.”
It was around that time that Kiszely decided lacrosse was going to be her main sport.
“After my sophomore season, I made a decision to continue my lacrosse career over AAU basketball that summer,” she said. “I thought I had improved a lot more in lacrosse since freshman year and could continue that into the summer.”
What makes Kiszely so dangerous as an attack is that she is equally adept at scoring and setting up goals. She credits that to playing different sports, saying, “it helps me have better vision while playing, because each sport I play helps strengthen my ability to read the field or court.”
She added that while it is always fun going to goal, “setting up a good pass to my teammate in transition is definitely more exciting for me.”
“That’s what we’re looking for, she’s a complete player,” Fisher said.
Kiszely’s long, lean, rangy body gives her a tremendous athleticism, which makes her difficult to stop.
“You can only hope to contain her, you really can’t stop her,” the coach added.
That’s what they are trying to do in club lacrosse this summer, as Kiszley is playing her final season with Ultimate Lacrosse.
“We’re all really excited about it,” she said. “We have a lot of talent and work really well together.”
While Kiszely is the first player in her family to play lacrosse, she inherited her competitive spirit from her father, a former crew team member at Rutgers, and her mom, who plays tennis and volleyball. She will be playing college lacrosse about as far from Rutgers as possible, however, as she is already committed to Division I Fresno State in California.
“It’s a newer program, a lot of the West Coast schools are newer programs,” Fisher said. “They see potential in her, and they’re excited to get a kid of her quality in two years. But I get her for another year.”
Kiszely made her decision last August while attending a camp in San Diego. Fresno assistant coach Nicole Price watched Kiszely play, and the school contacted her shortly thereafter. Kiszely went for a visit, and she promptly made her choice.
“I always wanted to go to the West Coast and when I got to tour the campus I knew it was where I wanted to be the next four years,” she said. “The program is fairly new and plays in a strong division with other West Coast schools.”
Until then, however, Fisher gets to enjoy coaching Kiszely for one more year as she will be one of the few returning regulars to a team that lost nine seniors. The coach feels she will be ready for the transition.
“She’s a gamer, she really is a gamer,” he said. “She’s that type of athletes that plays all type of sports and you can see it. When it comes to being in the game, she just loves to perform.”