It has long been a dream for former Ansonia High standout Tierney Lawlor.
She has watched the UConn women’s basketball team from afar for years. Since players like All-American Diana Taurasi and Maria Conlon were winning multiple national championships with the Huskies, Lawlor hoped to one day share the same experience.
With only nine scholarship players this season, UConn was looking to add some walk-ons in an effort to fill out the roster. The opportunity was there. It was one Lawlor could not pass up. And after working out with the Huskies during the preseason, she proved herself in earning a spot on the team.
“It’s really cool,’’ Lawlor said. “It was definitely nerve wracking, but it was fun. I just worked hard. They must’ve seen something. But I worked hard. I did what I had to do.’’
Lawlor, a 5-foot-7 freshman guard, is joined by fellow walk-on Briana Pulido, a 5-7 sophomore guard. It is the first time since 1992-93 that UConn has two walk-ons on its roster (Colleen Healy and Kathy Kraus).
Pulido was a member of the UConn Track & Field team last year, competing in the hurdles and jumping events. She is no longer a member of the team, but she has since had her scholarship transferred to basketball.
“They’re working really hard,’’ UConn All-American Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis said. “It’s definitely difficult to just come and play on a team like UConn if you haven’t really played at this level. You’re asked to do a lot of things. You’re expected to play at a certain level, but they’re doing really good. They’re positive. They have shown up working hard at every single workout and that’s more than I can say for a lot of people that have come to try out before.’’
Lawlor totaled more than 900 points and 700 rebounds and nearly 200 assists during her career at Ansonia. She was named to the CHSCA Academic All-State and Connecticut Post Super 15 teams.
The Chargers finished 17-8 last season and reached the Class M quarterfinals for the first time in more than three decades.
Pulido previously earned All-Dade Honorable Mention and Most Points/Best Offensive Player of the Year honors at Gulliver Prep in Pinecrest, Fla. in 2009-10 and 2010-11. She led the team to a district championship as a senior.
“I want to see them doing the things they know they can do and not try to do the things they can’t do,’’ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “I’ve been around really good walk-ons and I’ve been around bad walk-ons. From all reports, these kids are going to be great. They’re going to be great for us. I’m sure there will be a week or so that will be difficult for them at practice.’’
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