She has overcome two knee surgeries, a coaching change, a switch in positions and a battle with her self confidence.
Nothing has stopped Sam Stevenson. Opposing goaltenders will be the first to attest.
A year after being one of the nation’s leading scorers, the Darien graduate and senior on the Richmond women’s lacrosse team has picked up where she left off. With 29 goals in nine games, Stevenson is currently tied for fifth in the country in scoring. Add in her 8 assists and she is tied for 11th place with 37 points.
Not surprisingly, Stevenson was unaware of her ranking until we spoke this afternoon.
“I didn’t know I was that high up to be honest,” Stevenson said. “Ever since last year I set the bar high.”
Stevenson is a case study in perseverance. She suffered her first knee injury as a senior at Darien. She scored 18 goals as a freshman, but her admitted moments of self doubt were flamed with inconsistent playing time. Stevenson was off to a great start as a sophomore, with 25 goals in 11 games, when her season was ended after tearing the ACL in her right knee.
“I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder in my life during the six to eight months recovering,” Stevenson said at the time.
The results were evident in a breakout junior season, when Stevenson finished with 55 goals and 25 assists in 18 games.
Though the Spiders have a new coach, Allison Evans, and Stevenson has moved from attack to midfield, a position she has never played before, her production has not fallen off as she just rolls with the changes. Quite the opposite.
“It has just been the biggest reward so far,” Stevenson said. “Running wise it has definitely been different. I worked hard to prepare for it. It is still a mental battle during games.”
Richmond improved to 3-6 — its non conference schedule features many of the top nationally ranked schools in the Mid-Atlantic region — with a 17-10 win over No. 19 Towson on Saturday. Stevenson finished with four goals.
Stevenson is among the most honest and candid athletes you will meet, as evidenced by her assessment of the transition to midfield so far.
“I just like being involved in the play no matter what end of the field it is,” she said. “The defense has been hard and I’ve failed a lot. But I’ve learned a lot as well. I love being involved in the transition.”
Stevenson said the change in positions has come with an adjustment in mindset.
“I just really focus on when I have to the ball working on going to goal,” she said. “I’ve been a lot more aggressive. Part of it is I am a selfless player and I like to look and see the field. I did that a little too much in previous years. I’ve learned when it is good to go to goal and when it is not.”
Stevenson is starting to come to terms with the end of her collegiate career. She said she would like to eventually pursue a career in the business or marketing end of the fashion industry.
“I try not to think about it, but with all the talk and people asking me what I am going to do after school it gets hard not to,” she said. “I’m just trying to think about the season.”
Stevenson admitted she has been given a boost by one of her new teammates, her younger sister, Charlett, who is a freshman on the team.
“It has been so awesome having Charlett here,” Stevenson said. “We are so identical. She is the person who can make me laugh the most.”
Laughs have come more easily for Stevenson, as she has overcome obstacles that would have derailed others to become one of the country’s top players. As is the case with her, the remaining goals have nothing to do with scoring titles.
“We have a really good team this year and that’s the best part,” Stevenson said. “I think we have a really good chance to go far in the tournament.”