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high school lacrosse Pat Bradley

Robertson keyed turnaround for Haverhill girls’ lacrosse

Kristy Robertson is heading for Southern New Hampshire University in the fall.

Kristy Robertson is heading for Southern New Hampshire University in the fall.

HAVERHILL – Kristy Robertson was hanging out at a friend’s house one afternoon. Bored, the pair went looking for something to do. They discovered a pair of toy lacrosse sticks amidst the collection of other playthings. Robertson, 13 at the time, had never held a stick before.

By the end of the afternoon, the two made a promise that they would play lacrosse that spring.

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It changed her life.

Five years later, as a senior at Haverhill High, Robertson captained the Hillies to the most wins in program history, and a berth in the state tourney. The 5-foot-8 middie has done so with a stick that is absolutely lethal around the net: piling up an Eastern Mass.-leading 116 goals, and 157 total points, during the regular season. She added five more, along with an assist, in a 14-11 season-ending loss to Lowell in the preliminary round of the Division 1 North on Monday afternoon.

Her progress, according to Haverhill High coach Mindy Cripps , now in her eighth season, is “unfathomable.”

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Following that fateful afternoon, Robertson joined the youth lacrosse program in Haverhill. She had fun, but needed to learn the game before she could really love it and succeed.

Her eighth-grade coach, though, saw great promise.

“He said I was a natural,” recalled Robertson, “but then he told me I could be great. I didn’t believe him at first.”

The message stuck.

A determined Robertson was all in. She joined Revolution Lacrosse, a Boston-based club program that often features a number of players from the Merrimack Valley Conference.

The impact was immediate: With the added playing time and development, Robertson honed her skill set and gained confidence.

“It helped me get to know the game more; I didn’t know anything about it,” Robertson said. “Revolution put me into game mode.”

From then on, it was full speed ahead.

Ever diligent, Robertson joined the cross-country and indoor track teams to get as physically fit as possible. Her speed increased.

With a small showing for tryouts her freshman year, Robertson was hoping that she could at least earn a spot on the junior varsity. She was shocked to learn that she had made the varsity.

Her first two seasons, though, were pretty nondescript. She scored two goals as a freshman, and then raised the total to eight as a sophomore. A frustrated Robertson was dying to contribute more, so she learned the intricate aspects of the game.

“She’s such a technical player, she’s three or four steps ahead of everyone else,” said Cripps of the dynamic captain.

With the same dedication in her offseason routine, Robertson returned for her junior season with a newfound confidence en route to an incredible 85-goal season.

“I always hear opposing coaches yelling ‘Mark number four!’ and I love it, because I know the triple team is coming,” explained Robertson, who will play at Southern New Hampshire University. “Playing against added defenders makes me become a better player, but even more importantly, two of my teammates are wide open.”

Robertson never misses them, either. Then again, she doesn’t miss much of anything. Robertson’s shot efficiency is unparalled and the statistics are eye-popping: 94 percent of every shot she takes gets past the goalie for a goal.

And if Robertson does not have a shot, she zips a pass to an open teammate.

This season, Robertson moved from playing the “x” behind the net on a scripted play – her “go-to move,” the wrap-around-the-crease – to playing the top of the crease, like a defenseman running the point on a power play unit. The new positioning allowed her to dodge and drive to the net, or make pinpoint passes to set up goals for her teammates.

The approach worked: The Hillies (10-9) averaged 13 goals per game and scored 20 or more on four different occasions.

“It’s not just about her stats — she’s the nicest kid, to boot,” said Cripps.

“She helped shape her peers. It’s one thing for me to say to do something, but it’s another to have them watch her go out and just do it. The program is in better shape than it’s ever been.

Ultimately, the 13-year-old who made a vow to go out and try has turned that dream into a star-studded reality.

“She wanted to change the program – she’s looking to leave a legacy,” said Cripps.

“She’s a terrific student, a phenom on the field, and a teammate you’d want to have. She’s clearly the strongest player Haverhill has ever seen.”

Reeling in the numbers

Robertson was not only local player to put up staggering numbers this season.

At Methuen, senior Abby Galloway-Burke racked up 104 points on the strength of 87 goals to propel the Rangers to a 13-5 record in the regular season. And then she fired in eight more in a 12-10 victory over Salem in the preliminary round of the Division 1 North tournament.

In Billerica, senior Lindsay Whiteway recently surpassed the 300-goal milestone while leading Billerica to a 12-6 record, a first-round bye, and the Merrimack Valley Conference Championship. The Indians are averaging just over 12 goals per game.

Andover sneaks in

Sitting in at 8-8-2, the Andover girls just barely snuck into the state tourney. With only two weeks left in their season, the Golden Warriors were 3-6-2 and on the verge of missing the state tournament. With seven games remaining against some of very best competition in the state — including Westwood, Notre Dame Academy, Medfield, Billerica, and Central Catholic — Andover ripped off four straight victories and won five of seven to reach .500 and clinch a postseason berth.

Pat Bradley can be reached at patrick.bradley@globe.com.
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