Saúl Berríos-Thomas | Layout Editor
The perfect lacrosse player has the right combination of skill and determination. Kaelin Shaw, a freshman midfielder, has the potential to come close to that.
Her best attribute right now is her determination, although her skills are developing every facet of the game.
Head coach Mike Scerbo enjoys watching her play with resolve.
“She is a kid that is fun to watch because even if she makes a mistake, she makes up for it. She’s got the energy to go as fast as she can and as hard as she can,” he said. “She is not a perfect lacrosse player, but she is a freshman.”
Shaw has provided consistent production for the Dukes all season. She has played in all 12 games and started nine. She is tied for fourth in the Atlantic 10 with two game-winning goals. Shaw has scored 15 goals on 27 shots. She has caused five turnovers along with 10 groundballs and six draw controls in her freshmen year alone.
But long before she started her first game for the Dukes or scored her first goal the Red & Blue, she knew lacrosse was going to be her calling, with a little help from her mother.
She began playing the sport on a club team as a youth.
“The coach was awful so my mom took over the coaching position and read a book on lacrosse,” she said. “She ended up coaching our team to the championships that year. I got involved in travel lacrosse soon after so that I could develop my skill.”
Lacrosse was a natural choice for Shaw after she saw her sister jump into it.
“My sister started prior to me. My mom got her into a club team and once I saw her playing I was the little one who was like, ‘I need to do whatever my sister does.’ Once she started playing I started right after her. I think it was when I was about eight,” Shaw said.
Shaw wasn’t even sure if she would make it to the Bluff. She had to convince everyone along the way that this was the right choice for her.
She remembers the struggle and is happy with how it turned out.
“It was hard convincing my parents to let me go further away because both my brother and sister went to Maryland and I’m from Maryland. My sister went to [University of] Delaware, which is only an hour away. My parents [wanted me to stay local]. It was hard convincing them to let me look at schools further away,” she said. “Once I saw the school and got Scerbo on board it just kind of clicked and I couldn’t be happier.”
Shaw, a Laurel, Md. native, learned quickly how physical college lacrosse is after she arrived at Duquesne.
“It’s a lot more physical than what I [was] used to. I thought Maryland lacrosse was very high-caliber, which it is, but here everyone is so much bigger and stronger … It has taken a lot to get used to,” she said. “With the ice baths and the different things that they provide for us it really does help. Getting yourself in the weight room really does help as well, so that you can be just as strong as the person that is alongside of you.”
One thing Shaw has struggled with off the field is balance. Every athlete struggles to find time for all of the things they need and want to do. Especially when that balance is juggling a social life.
Shaw has handled the transition well thanks to some help.
“I didn’t know anybody [at Duquesne]. My roommate introduced me to people outside of athletics. So, I have a group of friends outside of athletics as well the athletes I’m around more often,” Shaw said.
Because Shaw has been so productive and has made an immediate impact on the team, her role on the team is expanding.
Scerbo talked about Shaw’s responsibility on the team.
“She has had a big role for us so far and we are going to continue to count on her. We are going to need her to give us quality minutes and depth in the midfield,” he said. “She is going to get minutes and it’s not just going to be three or four minutes here and there, she is going to be playing 30 to 35 minutes a game. We are going to need her to step up and make plays.”
Shaw has adjusted well and feels like she is part of the team. She is not satisfied though. She wants to accomplish much more this year and throughout the remainder of her career at Duquesne. It is that determination that separates her from a mediocre player.
“I’ve definitely set a lot of goals for myself this year. I would love to become rookie of the year for lacrosse,” Shaw said. “I’d say that I am under many of my other goals, but with the conference play just starting I think that I am in good shape to grow as a player and go even further.”
The Dukes are headed into the toughest part of their schedule with conference play getting underway. They have only lost one game so far this season and the play the Dukes have gotten from Shaw has been a big part of that.
The team has suffered a few injuries over the course of the season, especially in the midfield. Sophomore midfielder Lib Lowry has missed games due to injury along with Morgan Matz, senior midfielder. But, as Shaw says, “At this point in the season everyone has bruises on their arms.”
Shaw may not be perfect yet, but she is well on her way and she is going to get very close under the tutelage of Scerbo and the menotring of the seniors.