Senior lacrosse captain Mandy Friend enters her final season at the University of Richmond having already broken and re-broken program records during all of her previous three seasons.
Friend, a native of Canandaigua, N.Y., joined the Spiders during the 2005-06 season, teaming up with older sister Ashley to help lead the Spiders to their second-straight Atlantic 10 Championship and NCAA appearance.
Fifty-three goals, 23 assists and 76 points later, Friend had made sure the team had achieved its objective during her first year on the team.
After setting a program record for the most points scored during a single season and earning five A-10 Rookie of the week honors, individual awards followed.
Friend was named a Third-Team All-American, Rookie All-American and All-Regional first team honoree as well as being selected to the Virginia Sports Information Directors' first team.
She was also named to the A-10 Championship team, the A-10 All-Conference team and was named A-10 Rookie of the year for 2006.
Friend attributed her success to the lack of an overwhelming expectation to perform well on an established team.
"I had stand-out upperclassmen who could take over a game," Friend said, "and I felt like I was just helping them out, and if I played well, I played well and that was that."
With that type of mindset, Friend said she had the ability to play her best lacrosse.
After such a remarkable year, Friend said she had begun to pressure herself to "do this or do that."
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But she repeated her success, and then some.
As a sophomore in 2007, Friend set new program records for the most goals, 62, and points in a season, 77. She ranked 12 in the nation for goals per game and 26 for points per game.
Friend was selected for the Inside Lacrosse and Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association All-American second teams, the VaSID Academic All-State team, the A-10 All-Championship and All-Conference teams, and the VaSID and IWLCA All-Regional first teams.
She was named A-10 Championship's most outstanding performer and A-10 co-offensive player of the year as well as the Richmond A-10 female scholar athlete of the year.
Friend said every year that she had been required to take on a bigger role and do more for the team. In her third year, that's exactly what she did.
Friend matched the number of goals she scored during her freshman year. But as an upperclassman, she became more of a provider, dishing out a program record 36 assists on her way to breaking her own program record for number of points scored during a single season, with 89.
Friend's teammate, freshman Caitlin Fifield, described Friend as the "glue of the team," who boosted the players with points, settled them and picked them up when they were down, and frazzled and kept them up when they were playing well.
In 2008, Friend was named to the All-South regional second team and the VaSID All-State first team. She was named A-10 most valuable midfielder and A-10 All-Conference first team.
Even though the team's run of three consecutive A-10 titles ended with a loss to the University of Massachusetts during the semifinals of the A-10 tournament in 2008, Friend and Fifield were invited to try out for the Canadian Woman's National team last summer.
They both made the team and will be traveling to Prague, Czech Republic, this summer to take part in the World Cup from June 17-27.
As far as the 2009 season, only time will tell, but Friend was named by InsideLacrosse.com as one of the players to watch this season. In terms of personal goals, Friend said she didn't really care.
"If the team is winning, things have to be going right," she said, adding that it had been a teamwork synergy that allowed her to get the statistics that she did. Fifield highlighted Friend's selflessness saying that Friend was someone who had worked hard to yield the best results for the team's success, never her own.
Friend said the team's disappointment with last season's failure had only served to motivate the team to work harder to regain the A-10 title and advance to the NCAA's.
The team is eager to prove itself.
"We know we deserve success," she said, "we're a new team with the same dream."
It's Friend's final season and she says that she isn't ready for lacrosse to end, although she is looking forward to doing something a little bit different.
Her success has not been confined to the lacrosse field. Friend is the vice president of Student Affairs for the Jepson Student Government Association and she is president of the Student Athlete Advisory Council.
Currently completing a major in Leadership Studies and minors in Business Administration and Latin American and Iberian Studies, Friend said she hopes to continue her education after graduation.
Her family's representation of Richmond lacrosse will end once Friend leaves in May. Friend's younger sister, a junior in high school, has been accepted to play lacrosse at the University of North Carolina.
"Our family is defined by the sport of lacrosse," Friend said.
But the legacy of the Friend sisters will live on in the record books at Richmond for a long time.
Contact reporter Sarah Blythe-Wood at email@example.com
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