LA GRANDE — Eastern Oregon University has signed its first lacrosse athlete — and it’s an individual who already has experience being part of a start-up program.
The Mountaineers announced Tuesday in a press release they have inked Meridian, Idaho, senior Sydney Shaughnessy to the newly founded women’s lacrosse program.
Head coach Monica Plut said Shaughnessy brings a blend of natural talent and drive and is the kind of athlete she wants in her program.
“She has great skill and she’s the hardest worker in the room,” Plut said.
Shaughnessy is coming off a junior season last spring where she netted 49 goals and six assists for Meridian High School, according to the EOU press release.
She’s also relatively new to the sport. Shaughnessy has been a basketball player throughout middle and high school, but her sophomore year decided to join the school’s new lacrosse program.
“I went out and tried it and fell in love with it,” Shaughnessy said.
She said joining EOU’s new program “was a really cool opportunity,” and called it “something that I’m used to, in a way,” given she was part of the new MHS program.
Plut pointed to Shaughnessy’s experience being part of a prior start-up as a positive.
“She loves lacrosse. She’s so passionate about it,” Plut said. “She got people to join her high school team. She’s going to be a walking, talking, marketing person for our team.”
Plut and Shaughnessy met about a year ago when Plut, who also is a US Lacrosse Level 1 and 2 trainer, met her at a tournament in Boise.
“She’s similar to my (high school) coach now,” Shaughnessy said of Plut. “She’s a great person. We connect so well together. We relate on many things.”
Shaughnessy said she was about to put her lacrosse career aside and focus solely on her education at college — she nearly put down a deposit for Northern Arizona University — when she learned the school was putting her major online. It left her in a spot where, as she put it, “for a week I didn’t know what I was doing.”
She visited EOU, fell in love with the school and signed immediately, Plut said.
“When she came to EOU she loved it. She signed on the spot that day,” the coach said.
Shaughnessy said the support she felt for the sport when she visited — even with it coming to a region where it’s previously been nonexistent — was part of what sold her.
“All I heard was positive things about it. They’re all so excited about it,” Shaughnessy said. “Half of them said they don’t know what (lacrosse) is but they want to support it. Having that just feels right.”
When asked what stood out about her, Plut said that on the visit, Shaughnessy asked why Plut was recruiting her.
“I answered that you’re the hardest worker in the room. Her mom started tearing up (and said), ‘It’s nice that she’s getting recognized for it.’” Plut said. “Her passion, her willingness to help — her high school coaches said she’s the first one to practice, last one to leave. I think I scored a really great player.”
Shaughnessy pointed to her coaches — Jeff Einfalt, Tom Welsh and Lacey Porter — and her parents — Ray and Whitney — as integral to helping her reach this point.
“I wouldn’t be where I am without them,” she said.