Photo: courtesy of Briana Brady
Photo: courtesy of Briana Brady
May 09, 2019 11:19 AM
Molly Dionne wasn't originally sold on the idea of playing lacrosse at Hamline.
As a senior at Hopkins High School, she was looking at more established and successful programs. And at the time, the Division III Pipers were only preparing for their first season at the varsity level.
"I had just gotten done with a recruiting visit out east and I was feeling extra cocky when Coach K (head coach Karen Heggernes) called," Dionne recalls. "I said 'Thanks for your time. But you guys are D3.' Click.
"My Mom happened to be next to me at the time. Thank God. And we come from a military family. She told me 'Molly Elizabeth, that was rude. I don't know who that was. But you are going to go and tour that school just because you were so rude to them.'
"So I went."
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That the school turned out to be the place where her grandparents met in the mid-1950s helped. So did her encounter with older players on campus who had strived to build the program at the club level.
"They showed me what it was all about, and all the work the girls had been doing for years and years to get to this place," Dionne said. "And I was really honored to be asked to be a part of taking that next step. I felt a responsibility to continue everything that all those players had been doing."
Dionne has lived up to her end of the bargain. Since joining the Pipers during their first season at the varsity level, she has solidified herself as a mainstay in goal and played a big role in helping her team advance to the NCAA Division III tournament each of the past three seasons.
That includes this year when the Pipers (18-1) set a school record for victories and won the Midwest Women's Lacrosse Conference championship for the third-straight year.
The MWLC is made up of teams from Minnesota (Hamline, Augsburg and Northwestern), Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois. The Pipers will now face Rhodes College (Tennessee) in an NCAA play-in game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Illinois Wesleyan in Bloomington, Ill.
Hamline is looking for its first NCAA tournament victory, having dropped its first tournament game the past two seasons.
"We've gotten more and more experienced every year," said Heggernes, this season's MWLC coach of the year. "The first year we made the tournament, it was really just a party. We were along for the ride. We wanted to enjoy the moment and soak it all in because we didn't know if we'd be back there again.
"But now we've been there a couple of times. We know what it's like and what to expect."
Not bad for a player who really ended up in goal by default when first taking up the sport at a young age.
"We were a military family when I was little, and when we first moved here, my older sisters were kind of the new kids," she said. "They sort of tried out everything. My older sister Maggie found lacrosse and liked it. And we all started playing.
"I've been playing since fourth grade. But my older sisters wouldn't let me play with them in the yard unless I was in net. So that's how I ended up becoming a goalie."
Dionne also played hockey in high school, and played both sports as a freshman at Hamline. But lacrosse has become the primary focus for the business analytics major who will graduate later this month.
And she wants to end her career on a successful note.
"We're no longer the underdogs this time around," said Dionne, who has also worked as a suite hostess for the Minnesota Vikings. "We're coming to win."
Updated: May 09, 2019 11:19 AM
Created: May 08, 2019 08:55 PM
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