By Joe Eachus
With the Terrier women’s lacrosse team’s season coming to an end in the Patriot League tournament, the 10 graduating seniors have played their last game in the scarlet and white.
One of the clear standouts of the Class of 2021 is midfielder Emily Vervlied. In 50 games played over four seasons, including a pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Vervlied scored 66 goals and 107 points, netting a whopping 81% of her shots on goal.
Vervlied had the best season of her career this past season, scoring 46 points in just 10 games, including an incredible 10-point performance on Senior Day against Colgate.
I spoke with the two-time All-Patriot League selection about her career, her growth over the past four years, and what’s next for her.
Joe Eachus: So has it set in yet that this is it for you and the other seniors?
Emily Vervlied: “It definitely set in and really hit us on Senior Day, even though we had the playoffs after that. It was our last game guaranteed on Nickerson, so that really hit us hard. Then, obviously, after losing [in the playoffs] it set in. It crept up on us quick. I don’t think we were quite ready for it to set in, but it did hit us hard once it was there.”
JE: Since you arrived four years ago, how have you grown, as a lacrosse player and as a person?
EV: “I feel like I’ve grown both on and off the field. Even my personality has changed, and I’ve become a much more confident player and person, in all aspects of life. Freshman year you come into this huge school, you’re on a team at the bottom of the totem pole, so I was very, very shy. They’d have to beg me to talk in practice since I was so afraid to! I didn’t know what to say, and I didn’t want to say the wrong thing. Being older, and having so much more experience on and off the field, that confidence really grew, so that’s the main way I’ve grown over the past four years, and that can be helpful on and off the field.”
JE: On top of that, how’s your relationship with both your recruiting class and some of the younger players developed? Have you helped ease in some of the underclassmen in at all?
EV: “When I was a freshman, there were a bunch of middies that really helped me. Katie Belval just showed me the ropes of what it’s like to be a middy at the college level. Even before I came here, I’d watch her play and I knew those were the shoes to fill eventually. Lexi Lewis was only a year older than me, so once Katie left she took on that role too. I definitely had a lot of mentorship in my younger years, and then this year we had a bunch of freshman midfielders coming in. It was helpful to have to practice in small groups in the fall, since my group was all midfielders, including 6 freshmen. So I was really able to help them, work in smaller groups, and just be a leader by example. I feel like there’s sort of a line, as in when you get here there’s people you look up to, and then as you get older you have people looking up to you, so it’s just a cool way to be a part of the team.”
JE: You mentioned one of the differences between a regular season and the Covid season is the small practice pods. What are some of the other big differences?
EV: “It was definitely hard, but I think we were all just thankful to be playing, especially with how our season ended last year. That was a pretty big shocker, and it hit us pretty hard. Being by ourselves for however many months and not being able to be active, so when the fall came, we were all kind of scared, because we had no idea what it was going to look like. But then we were able to practice in the pods, which was difficult since I wasn’t even able to practice with my roommate, who I’ve been playing with my whole career here. But on the other end, it was really cool to be able to play with and get a connection with the freshmen that you normally wouldn’t have, just because there’s usually a divide among the grades. With the pods, it was really easy to get super close to everyone, so we didn’t see it as a difficulty but something that we could grow from, so I think it worked pretty well for us.”
JE: That’s definitely the right mindset to have, and obviously something was going right, as you had a really incredible season. 22 goals and 46 points in just 10 games, so what was your mindset going into this season that allowed you to really take your game to the next level?
EV: “Definitely, like I said, where I’ve grown these past four years is my confidence. I feel like this year I was the most confident in myself that I ever have been, so that really helped me do my job well, and then we just had such a team-first mentality, that you don’t go play for yourself, and that showed in so many ways form so many different people on the team this year. That’s really what helped all of us. My freshman year roommate Kenzie Irvine also had an incredible year. It’s just that team-first mentality, that you do it together, do it for each other, and I think that’s why we had a pretty successful year.
JE: To circle back to the topic of growth, do you remember your first time on campus, and what that was like?
EV: “I do! It’s actually really funny. When I was early in the recruiting process, I had initially thought that I wanted to go down south, to the warm weather and a small school. And then I ended up coming to Boston for my first visit, and it was the complete opposite. Cold, huge school in the city, not a campus, so I remember because I didn’t think I would like it, but I fell in love with it. Also being able to meet the team, I felt like I really fit in, so it’s just funny that what I thought I wanted and what I ended up choosing were so different. It just says how much BU is a great school and how everyone loves it here.”
JE: I talked with Tobey Tick a couple days ago, and we went into her recruiting process a bit. I know the rules changed, so what was your recruiting process like?
EV: “So they changed the rules, sos now you can only talk to coaches starting junior year. Before that, for me, you still couldn’t talk directly to coaches directly, but a coach could email your club coach, and then your club coach could forward that to you, so you had a line of communication that way. It was literally freshman year that people first started reaching out, and that was when people on my club team started committing. I was on the later end, I didn’t decide until I was a junior (when it was official to talk to coaches). It was good, though, because obviously I changed my mind about what I wanted in those two years, so I’m glad I took my time. It was crazy. Like, I didn’t even know what high school was like and I’m hearing from college coaches.”
JE: What was it that sealed the deal for you, as far as coming to BU?
EV: “Just that first visit, really. I’d also never been to Boston before, I’m from Philly (so I’m used to Philadelphia fans and not Boston fans!), and it’s just so cool here, there’s so much to do, and I loved how BU’s campus is right in the middle of everything. You can see Fenway from campus, there’s so many cool things around here. Also, I really felt like I fit in with the team here, so that was another deciding factor.”
JE: Can you tell me a bit about your high school experience, and what’s the transition like from the high school level of lacrosse to the college level?
EV: “It was definitely pretty tough for me, because my high school sports weren’t very good. My competition and where I grew as a player was through my club team, so I’ll kind of group them both together. Going from club to college, it’s much faster paced, and there’s a lot more lacrosse IQ that goes into it, as opposed to just being like one person can get the ball and beat everyone. In high school, it’s mostly your best players getting the ball and going, but in college everyone has to work together in order for it to work out. So that team-first mentality was a big adjustment. Obviously, everybody was a rock star in high school, but then in college everybody on the field was the star player on their team. So you have to learn to play with other. And yeah, a lot faster-paced, so you need a lot more conditioning to get ready.”
JE: Do you remember the first time you played?
EV: “I was super, super young. I don’t remember the exact first time, but my cousin played for Drexel, and so I’d grown up watching him play. Even when he was in high school, we’d go watch his games, so that was probably the first couple times I help a stick. There’s this picture that my dad always brings up from one of my cousin’s games, it’s my brother and I, and it made the news. I look like I’m about to whack my brother with the stick! So that was probably the first memory that I have. I’ve been involved with lacrosse for my whole life. I started in first grade, which is when you could first start organized lacrosse where I’m from at the time.”
JE: What’s your fondest lacrosse memory?
EV: “There’s so many! I’d say some of my favorite memories are just pregame in the locker room, listening to music and dancing, traveling, all staying in a hotel, and having that time together, especially this year when those moments were rare. It’s those moments that I definitely won’t forget. It’s not really like those specific lacrosse moments, but it’s definitely the time with the team that I’ll miss the most.
JE: We all saw during the season that your class is incredibly close. How’d your relationship develop to the point it is now?
EV: “It’s cool because when you play a sport, you get to meet people in your grade before you get here. So we all met before freshman year, and we all went on a trip to visit one of the girls in Michigan (she ended up transferring, though). We’ve been pretty close ever since we met, and we’ve been through a lot the past four years, and our relationships are what keep us going. It’s funny because we all went on this trip before we even really knew each other! And now we’re all best friends, so it’s cool.”
JE: Off the field, what do you like to do?
EV: “I really like to go on hikes, and just be out in nature. I love spending time with friends, love going to the beach. That’s something me and my family do every year, so that’s definitely up there. And play lacrosse, I guess. Oh, and spend time with my dog. Have to throw that in there. She’s an Australian Cattle Dog and a Sheltie, so she’s a herding dog and she’s literally so fast. I haven’t seen her since I came back up, so I’m counting down the days for sure. I got her for my 21st birthday over quarantine.”
JE: So yeah, just to wrap up, what’s next, if you have any idea?
EV: “I’m still trying to decide. I’m looking at some options, going for a 5th year, or going to play abroad in England to get my Master’s. It’s still up in the air, but I got to make a decision soon, not exactly sure where that will go but either one will be fun.”
JE: So does that mean there’s a chance you take your extra year of eligibility?
EV: “There’s a chance, but I’m just going to leave it at that.”
This interview has been edited and condensed.