Maybe it is the maroon -- that majestic, seldom used hue somewhere between dark red wine and the rich mahogany brown of an antique chiffonier -- which spurs success for Alli Bainbridge. The former Pottsgrove Falcon currently stuffs stat sheets and terrorizes opposing defenses in that same pleasing shade for the Alvernia University Crusaders. Or, more likely, it is her work ethic that has caused her game to continue to rise as she has hit the collegiate level.
A quick call to Alvernia head women's lacrosse coach Kelly McCloskey confirms the latter.
"She is one of those players that every coach loves to have," McCloskey said of her junior attacker. "She works hard at practice, during games. She works hard when we do not have a mandated practice."
Applying the same tenacity she does to her studies, "She's a good student; an excellent student," McCloskey said, has made Bainbridge a force on the offensive end for the Crusaders. Bainbridge hit the 100 career goal mark in a March 29 drubbing of Cabrini College, a six-goal performance that is not out of the ordinary for the talented junior, if the back to back five goal games she had merely a week before were any indication. The total puts her in rarified air, making her one of only six players in Alvernia history to hit the century mark.
"She's a finisher," said McCloskey. "She is at her best when she can get the ball around the eight meter (arc, an area in front of the goal) and she can use her speed to beat one, two defenders."
Despite her obvious goal scoring acumen, Bainbridge prefers to take a team first approach to the game.
"I think I'm a pretty laid back player," Bainbridge said. "I know I could be more aggressive at times; I like to set things up. I would rather set someone up for a goal then take a goal myself … I just like being on offense and setting plays up and making things happen."
Bainbridge leads the Crusaders in assists and her 27 goals and 38 points places her second in both categories for the team. Joined by prodigious scorers and fellow 100 goal club members Alyssa Verrillo, Sarah George and Samantha Landis, Bainbridge and Alvernia have battled to a 5-4 mark as of April 1, with an impressive 4-1 home record being diluted by road woes. Still, Bainbridge sees nothing but championship potential when she looks at her teammates.
"We've been in the playoffs every single year and come up short," Bainbridge said. "I never had one in high school, and this is like the best opportunity that I've ever had to win a championship, and the best team I've ever been on."
Her route to McCloskey's Crusaders was somewhat circuitous. McCloskey had not recruited Bainbridge coming out of Pottsgrove; rather, she got in touch with her.
"She contacted me the fall after her senior year, and mentioned she was interested," McCloskey said. Bainbridge visited the campus, and transferred to the school from Montgomery County Community College--more maroon, of course--the following spring.
"I decided to transfer here when I was a freshman," Bainbridge said. "I made like a last minute decision to come here. And then I decided to play lacrosse. That's what actually made me want to come here, to play again. Because I wasn't going to play at school (Montgomery County Community College has an athletics program, but no women's lacrosse team). It's been great."
McCloskey was bound to agree.
"I knew she'd be a contributor," she said, "but I did not know she'd be a key player. That's because she works so hard."
And has a keen eye for color.