St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes girls’ lacrosse Coach Kathy Jenkins used the team’s winter indoor league games to audition her attackers, hoping to find the right player to quarterback the offense from behind the net.
Senior Besser Dyson registered more than 50 assists each of the past two seasons playing out front, and the longtime coach believed she would be perfect for the job. Dyson wasn’t so sure.
“I went back there and felt kind of awkward,” Dyson said.
Dyson gave the experiment a chance and has become the area’s most prolific distributor, proving a natural fit with her field vision and pinpoint passing.
The Virginia recruit continued to set the tone for the top-ranked Saints in Friday’s 16-9 nonleague win over No. 3 Good Counsel in Olney. She dished out six assists and scored twice, keying the decisive first-half burst from her spot behind the goal.
“Obviously, scoring gets the most attention, but it feels good to make the pass before the great shot,” said Dyson, who has an area-best 111 assists in 23 games. “We have so many great shooters on this team doing so well to score all the goals, it makes it easy for me.”
St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (22-1) had its bid for a perfect season spoiled on Long Island last Saturday with a grinding 9-8 loss to nationally ranked St. Anthony’s (N.Y). Facing another tough test, the Alexandria private school quickly found its stride on offense to assert control.
The Saints took the lead with a run of four straight goals over a 3 minute, 10 second span early on and stretched the advantage to as many as six in the first half. Good Counsel (14-3-1) hung tough after halftime but never got closer than four goals.
Almost every St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes offensive possession went through Dyson, and she consistently made the smart play, whether it was waiting for a teammate to flash open or attacking the crease herself. She assisted on four consecutive goals during one stretch in the first half, each to a different teammate.
“She’s really seeing all the cutters at the right time,” said senior Margaret Tucker Fogarty, who scored a game-high five goals. “You need that for a successful attack.”
Last spring, St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes could rely on then-seniors Liz Lavie (California) and Katie Austin (USC) to direct the offense, setting up Dyson and All-Met Player of the Year Carly Reed. That pair combined for 198 goals in 2012.
Reed continues to find the net almost at will. The North Carolina recruit scored three goals against Good Counsel despite being face-guarded. She has 98 goals for the season and a school-record 535 career points.
Dyson, meantime, has learned to take pride in a role that seemed foreign a few months ago.
“She really feels comfortable with the position now,” Jenkins said. “In the beginning of the season, she didn’t know if she really wanted to tackle that position. Now she loves it.”