05/03/2019 2:35 PM
Team 91 alum Allison Conn and Queens University of Charlotte dominated their conference again and are looking for an NCAA tournament berth.
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The last time that Queens University of Charlotte made the NCAA tournament, Allison Conn was relegated to the bench, and fortunately for her, she was wearing sunglasses.
Then a freshman, Conn was able to hide her tears behind those sunglasses as the game started in Missouri. She'd found herself in the Royals' starting lineup right off the bat, but she tore her ACL six games into the season, bringing her hot start to a screeching halt. Even though she got to travel with the team to the tournament, she couldn't help but be overcome with emotion at the thought of not being able to help her team.
Two years later, she and Queens could be practicing for, as she puts it, "no reason." The Royals won the South Atlantic Conference championship in convincing fashion, hammering Lenoir-Rhyne, 22-8, in the championship game, a game in which the Team 91 2016 and Floyd alum and Royals' midfielder grabbed a draw control for the champs. Despite Queens' sparkling 17-2 record with its lone losses coming to ranked teams, there's no guarantee that it'll be chosen to the NCAA Division II tournament field when the brackets are unveiled Sunday.
At the same time, there's plenty of optimism for the Royals, and for good reason. Conn thinks that the chemistry on the team has rebounded to where it was two years ago, and as a result, it's as close-knit a team as she's seen. The results on the field agree with her as Queens has bounced back from a relatively-down 11-8 mark a year after posting a 17-4 record. Conn has started 15 of 19 games this year, ranking sixth on the team in goals (35) and third in draw controls (49). She made a foray to the attack line last year while recovering from the ACL tear, but this year, she's back to buzzing around the field from her midfield spot. Oh, and she also earned the Elite 20 Award for women's lacrosse, which honors the student-athlete with the top GPA in the league's sport, because she has a perfect 4.0 GPA while majoring in finance.
"It was so hard to miss out my freshman year, especially since the chemistry was great," Conn said. "If it had to happen, though, I'm happy that it happened when I was a freshman, and I knew that I had a lot of time to play and to look forward that and not focus on my injury. I definitely still think about it. I wear a knee brace for the security and I think about it when I make certain movements, and it's more of a mental thing. Coming off the injury, I wasn't quite as confident in the midfield, so I played attack, but I'm more comfortable at midfield. I love running around the field."
The Royals were absolutely dominant this year in conference play, winning their games by an average of 17.1 goals per game and never winning by less than eight goals. That's nothing new, as they've lost all of one regular season game in their six years in the conference. Despite that, some could argue that they've snuck up the rankings, where they're currently sitting 10th. That's fine with Conn and her teammates, which include Team 91 2017 alum Lexie Willets, a defender with nine ground balls in eight games this year, so long as they get the chance to prove that they can run with anyone in the country.
"This year was a revenge tour for us in the conference after losing for the first time, and making it to the national tournament would be everything," Conn said. "This year, our team has stayed exteremely resilient in close games and it's something that I haven't seen on other teams since I've been here. We started the season unranked and not on anyone's radars and now we're at 10, but we're still the underdogs."
Hungry dogs run faster.