April 22, 2004
By Greg Touney
In 2004, Meredith Simon has built a pretty impressive resume for herself.
Member of the coaches’ preseason all-BIG EAST team? Check.
Nominee for college lacrosse’s top individual honor? Check.
Team leader in goals, assists and draw controls? Check. Check. Check.
OK, so there’s at least one more accomplishment that Simon hopes to add to her list as her final campaign draws to a close.
“I don’t see why it can’t happen,” the senior says of her team’s chances of going the distance.
First, though, there’s the matter of landing an at-large berth to qualify for the NCAA tournament. While the Irish are sitting at a solid 10-2, Simon knows that the next four games are crucial to getting into the 16-team bracket.
“First and foremost, we need to win out the season.” the Flemington, N.J., native says.
That won’t be the easiest task for Notre Dame. The Irish are coming off a two-game losing streak and three of the next four games are against ranked teams, including a home game versus ninth-ranked Johns Hopkins.
Notre Dame ripped off a 10-game winning streak to start the season — the best start in the program’s eight-year history — but the streak was snapped recently as the Irish dropped a 9-7 game to No. 5 Georgetown on April 17. While most teams might be scrambling to get back on the right track, Simon — who shares co-captain duties along with senior Andrea Kinnik — senses a cool confidence about her squad.
Meredith Simon needs just one more goal to become the third player in Irish women’s lacrosse history to score 100 goals in her career.
“It’s OK,” she said about the recent defeat. “It’s better probably going into the tournament with a loss under our belts. It’s less pressure on us and fewer expectations.”
“We really do well when we’re the underdogs, and so now we’re going to be that. We play a lot better and a lot looser, so I think it’s actually a blessing in disguise.”
Simon’s play has been one of the most pleasant blessings that the Irish team has had. After Notre Dame lost leading scorer Danielle Shearer to graduation, Simon took the necessary steps in order to bring her game to the next level.
“I worked really close with Jen Newitt [the assistant coach involved with the offensive attack],” Simon explains. “She’s been great. Basically, we’ll go one-on-one with her, and she’ll tell me everything that needs fixing. I give her a lot of credit.”
Simon has responded by setting an absolutely torrid pace this season. As of April 22, she ranked in the top seven in the BIG EAST in scoring (second with 52 points on 36 goals and 16 assists), ground balls (tied for fifth with 38) and draw controls (tied for seventh with 24). Including Tuesday’s game against Northwestern, Simon has scored at least a point in 23 consecutive games dating back to last year.
Her performance hasn’t been lost on the lacrosse community, either. Simon has already put together some huge weeks in leading her team to wins and has been honored as the BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week on three separate occasions. In addition, it was recently announced that Simon was nominated, along with nineteen other players, for the Tewaaraton Award, the most prestigious honor for a college lacrosse player.
“It’s a great honor,” she says. “I’m in the running with a lot of great lacrosse players.”
Lacrosse runs in the Simon family. Her older brother, Eric, served as team captain of the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team in 2003.
Simon has never had to look any farther than the family dinner table to find great lacrosse talent. Her older brother, Eric, captained the Irish men’s team last year, and Meredith credits much of her current success to her brother.
“I think that relationship has gotten me to where I’m at today,” Simon says. “First of all, him playing here helped me get in here, because that’s how I got my name to [women’s coach] Tracy [Coyne] that I even played lacrosse — through my brother and through my brother’s coach. He’s always supportive and I hope that I’m supportive to him as well.”
One aspect that has been vital to Notre Dame’s success this year has been the team support of each other. While Simon is leading the team with 52 points, seven other players have tallied double-digits point totals, including three with over 20 (seniors Abby Owen and Lauren Fischer with 33 and 29, respectively, and sophomore Crysti Foote with 25)
“Everyone steps up. If, for some reason, someone has a bad game, someone else is going to step up and have a great game and it could be anyone.” Simon explains.
“What’s great about this team is that everyone hustles 110-percent for every single game.”
Helping drive the Irish has been a strong crop of eight seniors. In addition to the two co-captains, the Irish have been aided tremendously by midfielder Abby Owen, defenders Kristen Gaudreau and Kassen Delano, and attacker Lauren Fischer.
“I think the senior leadership has been amazing. I think that we as a senior class knew what we wanted going into the year,” Simon says. “We knew we wanted to win the national championship, and so far we’ve taken every step in order to get there.”
It’s hard to believe that her list of accomplishments runs a little short, but Simon and her team are on a mission to capture the NCAA Championship for a program that has been in existence for only eight years.
One thing that can’t possibly be displayed on a stat sheet is determination. If anyone has it, it has to be Simon, and her speech and actions show it.
“We have the hustle, we have the determination, we have the heart, and we’re able to overcome adversity,” she says. “We’ve had stuff thrown at us that would make some other teams buckle, but not us. We’re going to fight through it and we’re going to win. That’s such a good quality for a team to have.”
On the heels of a two-game losing streak that has slowed the team’s momentum, overcoming adversity will be the key to getting Notre Dame back on track. It might be one of the many qualities that get lost in the shuffle when talking about a team that has had as much success as this year’s Irish team. However, it’s just one of the many reasons that might enable Meredith Simon and her teammates to add that illustrious “NCAA Championship” to their respective resumes.