WESTWOOD — Kristin Igoe did not have a lacrosse stick in her hands this time. She could not jump on the field and end the season for the Westwood High squad led by coach Leslie Frank . It has been six years since she did that.
On the sidelines at Westwood High on Monday night, the 23-year-old Igoe, in her first year as the Franklin High girls’ coach, and one of the best women’s lacrosse midfielders in the country, had her gifted hands tucked in her jacket pockets. The season was over.
The Panthers, after falling to Westwood, 11-2, in the Division 1 South semifinals to finish with a 19-3 record, shook the hands of the victorious Wolverines and retreated to their bench to release some tears.
But this was more of a celebration than a funeral. There were no, “I’m sorrys.”
“Congratulations,” former Franklin coach Chris Schmidt told Igoe.
“Great job,” said Franklin’s athletic director, Brad Sidwell .
“We need to be there,” Igoe said, pointing toward the celebrations on the Westwood side. “That’s where we need to be.”
“I know,” Sidwell said. “Just keep working.”
What a season. What a remarkable nine-year stretch for Igoe. What a story.
“This is exactly what Massachusetts needs,” said Westwood coach Frank. “And that should be the headline.”
In the spring of 2004, Framingham High lacrosse coach Stacey Freda surveyed the field in the first day of tryouts and noticed Igoe, who looked confused with a lacrosse stick in her hands.
That spring was the last time anyone would be able to say Igoe was not very good.
“We said, if you get the ball, give it to somebody else,” Freda said. “Just give it away.”
“The only thing I could do was run,” Igoe said.
‘Of course you could see her passion. We knew she could play, but playing and coaching are two different things.’
She hardly played that season. Framingham, about to enter an elite class of girls’ lacrosse comparable to modern-day Westwood, was talented.
Among frequent onlookers at Flyer games was then-Boston College coach Shari Krasnoo , who had led the nation in scoring as an All-American at Colgate University. Framingham would send several girls to BC.
But even Freda, one of the first of the brilliant coaching minds to make their names in Massachusetts, could not have anticipated Krasnoo’s comments after one game in the 2004 season.
“She said, ‘I want that kid,’ ” and pointed to Igoe, as Freda remembers it. “I said, ‘She’s just a freshman; she barely plays.’
“She said, ‘I know, but she’s going to be good. I want her.’ ”
To the person who may know Igoe best, her almost-immediate switch from bench-warming freshman to an elite talent the following year was not much of a surprise.
“She’s pretty self-motivated,” said Amelia Igoe , her mom. “We didn’t have to do much. She just worked really hard that summer. That’s all she did.”
Igoe made the Mass Elite club team in 2005, and earned All-America and Globe All-Scholastic honors the following two seasons. “There was no downside to Kristin,” said Frank, who coached Igoe at Mass Elite. “She could do it all.”
Frank has forgiven, but she hasn’t forgotten what Igoe did to her team on Westwood’s turf in 2007.
With the score tied, 9-9, in the Eastern Massachusetts postseason semifinals, Igoe took the ball in the game’s final moments, dodged a defender, drove right, and fired a low shot from an improbable angle that found the net with nine seconds left. Framingham won, 10-9, on its way to the state championship.
“There was no play-call,” Freda said. “The ball went to Kristin and you just knew the game was over.”
Even after missing her entire freshman season at Boston College with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Igoe returned to set a program record with 168 career goals over the next four seasons.
She graduated with her master’s degree last year, and has since earned a spot on the US Women’s National Team, which will compete in the 2013 World Cup taking place next month in Oshawa, Ontario.
She could have done many things after graduating from college, but she wanted to coach high school lacrosse.
“Of course you could see her passion,” said Sidwell, who hired Igoe out of a pool of several qualified candidates. “We knew she could play, but playing and coaching are two different things. You could tell she had it, though.”
Schmidt, who stepped down before the season to focus on his new role as Franklin High’s assistant principal, said he is not surprised at how well the Panthers performed this year.
“I can preach; I can do everything I did,” he said. “But Kristin — she can walk the walk and talk the talk. And having that makes an impression on those kids.”
As Massachusetts continues to progress in the national lacrosse scene, Igoe has the opportunity to add Franklin to the list of elite programs.
“This is what we need,” Frank said. “Getting these college players back on our fields and caring enough about our region to put that much time in. You don’t get a team like [Franklin’s] overnight without putting in hours and hours and hours. So I applaud her.”
“It’s been amazing,” said Franklin senior defender Kristi Kirshe , who will play soccer at Williams this fall. “She brought so much to this program.”
Freda said Igoe’s possibilities are endless.
“She’ll do whatever she wants to do in life,” Freda said. “And I believe she’ll be a longtime teacher and a great high school coach, notwithstanding the fact that she could be on a US coaching staff or coaching a big-time college team.”
It has been an eventful nine years for Igoe, who also got married last year.
There is another two-time high school All-American from Framingham, and she too tore her ACL while playing for Boston College.
People talk similarly about the work ethic of Rachel Igoe , Kristin’s younger sister, who has quite the role model.
Check back in a few years.
Newton North will need to reload
The Newton North boys’ team, which lost to Marshfield, 10-5, in the first round of the Division 1 East sectional, finished at 14-6 after putting together yet another strong year. However, the Tigers have big shoes to fill with the graduation of 12 seniors, including Joey Mariano , T.J. McNicholas , Ryan Quinn, and John Hogan .
“They provided a lot of skill and talent, but they were also great leaders,” said coach Bussy Adam .
Look out for junior Anthony Wyse , a 6-foot-2 lefty who posted 91 points, to be among the premier attacks next spring.Jason Mastrodonato can be reached at jasonmastrodonato @yahoo.com.