Female rookie of the year

By Ajan Caneda

Staff Writer

In her first game, against No. 5 Duke, first-year lacrosse player Arriana Sajjad ’15 proved that she could compete against the country’s elite. The game was only the first indication of Sajjad’s ability to be a force for the Bison.

Her offensive savvy and dedication in practice are admired by her teammates and head coach, Randall Goldsborough.

“She is constantly pushing her teammates to improve and perform which in turn helps her learn how to lead both on and off the field. She works extremely hard in each drill every day which has helped her become a very consistent player,” Goldsborough said. “I expect that she will be one of the top players in the nation before she graduates in three years.”

Sajjad certainly showed that she is ready to live up to that challenge when she faced Duke in her first collegiate game, scoring two of her team’s three goals against one of the formidable defenses in the country. In the Bison’s next game, she posted another two goals in a loss against No. 17 Penn State. Despite the losses, she gained valuable experience against two of the best teams in the country and solidified her spot in the starting lineup for the rest of the season.

“Arriana is not easily intimidated and lives for a challenge, even though she is one of the youngest accomplished players in our league,” Goldsborough said. “We played Duke, and she scored two goals against an All-American goalie and one of the top ranked defenses in the country. Since then, she has continued to gain confidence in her abilities and is one of the top players in the league.”

At this point in the season, Sajjad is the leading scorer on her team with 38 goals, along with 51 points, in 17 games. Her most impressive performance was against Liberty on March 21, where she posted a career-high six goals, including the game-winner in overtime. This, followed by a five-goal showing against conference rival American, led to her being named the Susquehanna Valley Limousine Bison Athlete of the Week.

“Liberty was just an amazing upset and, most importantly, it showed us that we are truly incredible and strong when we play together as a team,” she said. “To come back from being down by nine and winning in overtime was a huge confidence boost for us, and that really showed how capable we are.”

Despite her individual accolades, she remains humble and remembers the guidance her coaches have provided, along with the bond she has with her teammates.

“My coaches and teammates, especially the upperclassmen, have been extremely patient with me when I made mistakes and unbelievably supportive of all my accomplishments, as they are with everyone on the team,” she said. “They have taught me a lot and made me into a more mature, team player. Also, I am incredibly close with my freshman class, and I could not be more fortunate and thankful to have come into a team with this group of girls. They are my support net and best friends and our friendship made all the difference in my transition.”

Teammate Katelyn Miller ’14 has recognized Sajjad’s emergence as a player and leader, which includes adding new dimensions to her already solid repertoire.

“In the beginning of the season, Arriana was playing only attack and was put in mainly a cutting position. Throughout the season she has been diversified by playing some midfield and being a double threat on attack by being a great cutter and driver,” Miller said. “I think she matured a lot through the first couple months and has been able to come up big in tight situations by helping in transition, winning the draw or taking it to goal when we are down.”

In the Orange and Blue’s game against Binghamton on April 14, she scored three times in her ninth multi-goal game of the season. Her efficient scoring stems from her consistent accuracy; she has a 77.2 shot-on-goal percentage. The effort she puts in practice is mirrored on the field, as she has also recovered 58 draw controls.

As the regular season concludes, Sajjad is looking towards the postseason and focused on continuing to improve. She remains optimistic about the direction the team is going in, while her motivation to compete in the Patriot League tournament fuels her sensational play.

“Our juniors and sophomores have really stepped up this season to fulfill this leadership role and they’ve done a great job so far handling all of us freshman. We also have a large incoming class to look forward to that will push us to become better, so it’s only up from here,” she said. “Personally, for the rest of the season and next year, I am looking to stay mentally strong and make smarter decisions with the ball on the offensive end. For next season I would definitely want to see us competing in the Patriot League Championships. That may seem like a little bit of a jump, but I know we’ll get there. That’s definitely my ultimate goal. We’ve improved so much this season and only continue to get stronger.”

Her work ethic and perseverance embody the prestigious Bison athletic tradition. Sajjad looks to accomplish a lot during her next three years, and she is on her way to becoming one of the best players, not only in the Patriot League, but in the nation.

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