Sept. 28, 1999

by Alan Wasielewski

As the fourth-year Notre Dame women’s lacrosse program continues its development into a national power, the members of the early teams have a unique opportunity to provide a lasting impression to the players who will enter the program in the future. The awards and recognition received by the current team help serve as the foundation of the program. Freshman Kelly McCardell has set one of the first stones in place.

McCardell has yet to play a game for the Irish, but her impact on the team already has been felt. McCardell is a world champion — a member of the United States under-19 women’s lacrosse team that beat Australia for the world championship on September 8.

“I didn’t believe it at first,” McCardell said of her selection to the national team. “I sent in my application for the team not really expecting to even make it through the regional try-outs.”

She was selected among 200 lacrosse players vying for just 16 spots on the team that traveled to Perth, Australia, for the 1999 International Federation of Women’s Lacrosse Association World Championship. McCardell was a starting defender on the team that went undefeated in the tournament and avenged a 1995 loss to Australia in the championship game.

Adjusting to college is difficult for any freshman. McCardell, a West Chester, Pa., native, had to deal with the tournament’s taking place just a week into her first semester at Notre Dame.

“The professors made it as manageable as they could for me,” said McCardell. “I had one day to move in, then take one week of classes to meet with my professors and explain my situation, get the readings and assignments and then take off for Australia.”

McCardell was one of just six incoming college freshmen to be on the team. While her teammates were able to go out and enjoy all that being in a foreign country had to offer, McCardell had to stay behind and study.

“There were two days when the team went to the beach and I had to stay in the hotel room and get my work done,” McCardell said. “Another time they went shopping and to the casinos when I could not go.”

McCardell also took full advantage of her opportunities on the field. Starting every game, she was one of the top defenders in the tournament. In a highly anticipated first-round contest against Australia she was named player of the game. Australia could only manage four goals against the United States defense.

“We knew that we would probably play Australia in the finals, but we wanted to make them remember losing to us in the first round,” McCardell explained. “It was one of the most competitive games of the tournament.”

Now McCardell shifts her concentration from the international to the collegiate level in playing for the Irish. The fact that Notre Dame is a developing program was one reason she chose to play for head coach Tracy Coyne.

“I wanted to go to a school where I could play right away,” McCardell said. “I also really wanted to go to a place where the program was just starting, to help it build recognition while I was there.”

McCardell should have an immediate impact on a young Irish team in 1999. There are no seniors on the roster and this is the first year that the team is comprised of three recruiting classes.

“It is very exciting to have a player of Kelly’s caliber on the team,” said Coyne. “This is our first year with all recruited players on the roster and the schedule is a little tougher. I think we are ready for better competition.”