By Ryan Baillargeon
During her final campaign with Loyola Maryland's women's lacrosse team, attacker Annie Thomas has a chance to leave her mark on the history of the program.
During the Bel Air, Md., native's first three seasons with the Greyhounds, she helped them reach the NCAA tournament along with the school's first Patriot League title in 2014.
While Thomas can help Loyola get back to the NCAA finals for the first time since 1997, the senior also has an opportunity to build on her individual legacy. Thomas set the program's record for most assists as a freshman with 31. A few years later, she is 23 shy of tying Rachel Schuck's program record for assists at 120.
Thomas needs three assists this season to become the first player in Greyhounds history to record both 100 goals and 100 assists. She currently has 100 goals during her career.
The reigning Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year will lead No. 9 Loyola into action Feb. 21 for its regular-season opener at Princeton. PressBox spoke with Thomas about the team and her role before the start of the 2015 season.
PRESSBOX: What was it like to be named the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year last season?
ANNIE THOMAS: It was an awesome honor. I worked really hard with the team and I wouldn't have been able to get that without them. Just the flow of our offense and our transition is just what we worked on in practice. I thank the team and my coaches for getting me that.
PB: There isn't a whole lot of parity at the top of women's lacrosse year-to-year; do you think Loyola has a chance to change that this season?
AT: Definitely. We have always made to the same spot since I've been here, and it's really time to change that. We have a lot of seniors and upperclassmen who have been through that, and we all just want to give it the extra push and go the extra step this year to make the final four and hopefully win a national championship. I'm excited to show everyone and prove to ourselves that we can do it.
AT: Coming in as a freshman, I was very intimidated because in high school the upperclassmen kind of the took the reins, and they kind of did it all and the freshman just followed. In college, [coach] Jen [Adams] told us we play as a team and once we are on the field, there is no senior, junior, sophomore or freshman. We all just play together. I really learned that we don't just look for the seniors to go to goal or make the big stop. We just work all together as a team.
PB: Do you have any individual goals for your senior campaign?
AT: I just kind of want to keep doing what I have been doing. I like to set high standards for myself. I would love to be on the Tewaaraton Watch List and make it a step further. Everything happens for a reason, so we will just see what happens.
PB: How would you describe your role this season?
AT: I'm kind of the quarterback of our offense. I sit behind and just look for feeds and drives. I just kind of see everything on the field on the offensive end. It's a big role, but I love it. I've been doing it since freshman year, so I'm excited to take it on my last year.
PB: You play at Florida and Virginia early in the season. Do you see those as important tests?
AT: I've gone to UVA and Florida and both times it hasn't gone our way. It will definitely be a big test, but I think our team is ready for it this year. It's more of an excitement. We are taking it each game at a time, but we are definitely excited for that.
PB: How does this year's team compare to the past ones you've been a part of?
AT: I think this year we really just have the drive. In the past, we were like, "This is it guys. This is the year." But this year, we have been showing it in practice and the weight room. It's not just something being said, we are really showing it. It's awesome to see. I just got goose bumps saying that because I really do believe this year's team has a gap from past years. All of the returners can see that. We are really excited to kick off the season.