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  • Joe Marchilena photo

    Merrimack's Emily Pollard tries to outrun Bishop Guertin's Allie Solms down the field during Wednesday's game.
  • Joe Marchilena photo

    Merrimack's Lauren Perry and Bishop Guertin's Callie Santos battle for a loose ball.
  • Joe Marchilena photo

    Merrimack's Emily Pollard and Bishop Guertin's Callie Santos chase after a loose ball during Wednesday's game. The Tomahawks won 17-13.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Merrrimack’s Perry, Pollard have unfinished business before college

When it comes to lacrosse, Lauren Perry and Emily Pollard have always been together.

The two Merrimack High School seniors started playing Granite State Elite Juniors a decade ago. They played lacrosse in the Merrimack Youth Association, and as they got older, for the GSE program. And for four years, they’ve been on varsity at Merrimack, helping the Tomahawks to the Division II championship game a year ago.

Perry and Pollard spent the last year going through the recruiting process, and next year, they’ll become the first players to come through the Merrimack program to play at the Division I college level.

Even the way they came about the schools they’ll attend – Perry is going to Holy Cross, Pollard to Delaware – was similar. Neither girl had the college they chose at the top of the list, but each one felt right at home with the school she chose.

“I think Holy Cross is the perfect fit for Lauren and I think Emily will thrive at Delaware,” said Merrimack coach Beth Rodgers, who has coached both girls throughout their high school careers and with GSE. “You find that right fit and I think you go with it.”

They’ve been a great fit for the Tomahawks, who are off to a 5-0 start in Division II and are hoping to make another deep run in the playoffs.

Having two captains that have so much playing experience means Rodgers has two players she doesn’t have to worry about, and can use as an example for the younger players.

“I don’t worry about them,” she said. “I think when you see them on the field, they know what each other is going to do. They know where to feed the ball, versus someone else who is going to take the extra second to see where the stick placement is.

“They’re strong players and they have a lot of bright ideas when it comes to the game of lacrosse. In addition to being great athletes and great lacrosse players, they have great grades and they’re smart kids. They’re great role models. I use that as much as I can with the other girls.”

And with both of them continuing their careers at the highest collegiate level next year, it gives players coming up through the ranks something to shoot for beyond a successful high school career.

“I think it does inspire them and helps them want to reach the point that we have,” Pollard said. “They know what they have to do to reach what we have.”

When the recruiting process started, Perry wanted to get away from the Northeast, preferably somewhere in the mid-Atlantic. But when it came time to visit Holy Cross, everything fell into place and it seemed like the right fit.

“It wasn’t on my radar,” Perry said. “When I went to look at it, I instantly fell in love with the place. It was close, which originally wasn’t what I was looking for, but when I walked on campus, I just got that feel of this is where I belong.”

As for Pollard, she got a little help from her older sister, Carolyn, who played lacrosse at Philips Andover before going on to Penn.

“She gave me a lot of advice,” Pollard said. “When I was talking with coaches, I’d call her and ask for help about what I should ask them.”

At first, Delaware wasn’t even on the list of potential schools until a parent of one of Carolyn Pollard’s former teammates mentioned that the coach at Delaware was still looking for recruits.

“I hadn’t even heard from them and all of a sudden, one day (Pollard) calls and says ‘Coach, I committed to Delaware,’ ” Rodgers said. “She made the right choice there.”

Pollard agrees.

“I fell in love with the campus,” she said. “It was so inviting and I loved everything they were talking about. They just drew me in and it’s the perfect fit. It’s much different than New Hampshire and I wanted the feeling of being away and out of state.”

Before either one leaves Merrimack, they both feel that there is unfinished business. For the first time in program history, the Tomahawks reached a championship game, but came up short against Portsmouth. This year, winning a title is the final goal.

“I think for the girls returning, that’s the biggest goal,” Perry said. “The girls who have made varsity have realized that and they want it just as badly. That’s important. If you don’t have everybody excited about it, you can’t do it. I think everybody wants it.”