Whether playing in Amherst, N.H., or Amherst, Mass., Danielle Pelletier has played lacrosse at the top of her class.
On Wednesday, she and the No. 19 Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team travel to the Granite State to take on the flagship university and see some familiar faces.
One hour and nine minutes from the New Hampshire campus, 51 miles east on Route 101, Pelletier played her high school lacrosse at Souhegan High School.
In 2008, as a senior, Pelletier was named First-Team All-State after scoring 55 goals and 33 assists in her senior season. She helped lead Souhegan to a state title in along with teammate JoJo Curro, a fellow All-State member who now plays with the Wildcats.
The two classmates also played field hockey together, capturing a state championship following an undefeated season.
As a highly touted recruit out of high school, Pelletier had an opportunity to play at Vermont, Boston University, UNH and UMass.
Pelletier eliminated BU from her list because they lacked a nursing program, her intended major. Next to UMass, UVM was a close second because of its location.
UNH, however, was quickly ruled out in the process.
“I didn’t really want to go to UNH because that’s where my whole high school goes, so I wanted to kind of get away from there,” Pelletier said.
Tomorrow will be Pelletier’s third meeting against the Wildcats and her good friend Curro. Pelletier said she still gets a kick out of seeing her teammate-turned-opponent.
“It’s funny, two years ago when I played her, we were on different teams and I was guarding her and it was really funny,” Pelletier said. “We started laughing because we realized that we were marked up on each other. It was just weird.”
Pelletier is currently fourth on the Minutewomen roster in point-scoring (14), while Curro has yet to attempt a shot in two games this season. UNH assistant coach and UMass alumni Meg Reddy declined to comment on Curro during a phone interview.
Reddy, a former teammate of Pelletier, is known for being gung ho, constantly displayed in her four years as a letter-winner at UMass from 2006-09. UMass head coach Angela McMahon is certain that she has carried her fiery attitude with her to the Wildcats.
“[Meg] was a playmaker. She was very, very competitive and very feisty, but was always smiling and a really friendly kid,” McMahon said. “She wanted to win and do what it took to win, so I’m sure she’s bringing that same attitude and focus to UNH.”
Reddy was a second team All-Atlantic 10 performer during her senior season, when she scored 46 points to help UMass capture its first A-10 title since 2000.
Reddy and McMahon maintain their coaching bond through regular phone conversations, more recently about the Minutewomen’s preparation for their 13-12 win over the Terriers on Jan. 23.
“We talk all the time and see each other at recruiting events,” McMahon said. “I actually reached out to her when I was trying to get the team ready for BU because she was on the team the last time we beat BU.”
Reddy was a member of the 2007 UMass team that beat the Terriers 13-11 at Nickerson Field.
Although Reddy was hesitant to speak about tomorrow’s match-up, the former Minutewomen will still be pleased to see her former teammates tomorrow. That is, as long as it doesn’t interfere with her game-planning.
“It’s always great to see friends, whether in high school or in college,” Reddy said. “I’m still really good friends with Jackie Lyons. But game time is game time, so I kind of walk down that line in game mood.”
For Pelletier, tomorrow’s audience will include high school friends as well as her brother, making the road setting more welcoming. According to McMahon, each game scheduled against a northeast opponent gives her players a sense of pride and enthusiasm because of their close proximity and the likelihood that there will be common opponents.
Yet, when it comes to preparing her team to play tomorrow, friends become foes, leaving little time for a social call. As far as Reddy having a feel for the way the Minutewomen play, McMahon believes that her former player is far removed from the team’s concept.
“I think that we have such a different team than we did in the past; a really young team with a lot of new players who bring a lot of different things,” McMahon said.
Dan Gigliotti can be reached at email@example.com.