April 5, 2008


Chace: Athlete for all seasons at Clarkson

Historic feat for former CHS standout


Photos provided by Clarkson University
Cortland’s Alicia Chace, performing on the soccer field for Clarkson here, has excelled in three sports during her four years of college athletics at the school in Potsdam.

Staff Writer

POTSDAM — Alicia Chace made some history recently.
When she hit the field for the Clarkson University women’s lacrosse team March 18 in its season-opener against Western New England College in Orlando, Fla., the 2004 Cortland High graduate became the first female athlete in school history to compete in three intercollegiate sports for four seasons each, also having taken part in women’s soccer and basketball.
“No way,” Chace said when asked if she had any notion of setting such a precedent when she entered Clarkson. “I came here just to play soccer pretty much, and someone on the team said I should play basketball. Then the father of an assistant coach (Lindsey Ellsworth) with the women’s lacrosse team knew I had played softball and broke some records, and I was asked to try lacrosse, too.”
While Chace played soccer and basketball at CHS, softball was her spring sport. She excelled in all three, earning all-league honors in each, but was a three-time all-league first-teamer in softball, the league’s co-Player of the Year and an All-Section 3 Class A honoree her senior season and made the All-CNY first team twice and the second team once. The first lacrosse game of her freshman season in college was the first time she’d every played the sport on a varsity level.
“The summer between my junior and senior years in high school I’d tried lacrosse, but had to borrow a stick,” Chace said. “It was nothing, really, just playing catch.
“The first coach I had at Clarkson, Chapel Love, was very helpful in helping me get into the sport. She showed me different techniques and worked with me. I couldn’t catch at first. I was used to catching with a glove, not a stick. She showed me videos, and it was a lot of practice and wall-ball. Eventually I got the hang of it. There are a lot of rules I’d never heard of before,” she added.
“We lucked out, basically, with Alicia,” said Love, now the Assistant Director of Community ands Academic Affairs for The Clarkson School, an early-entry program affiliated with the university. “A lot of strong athletes pick up lacrosse pretty quickly, but the difference is how much of an impact Alicia has been able to have at this level. To be able to compete at this level is a challenge.
“A lot of it is based on speed. She’s very quick. Her footwork from basketball helped. She was a very strong on defense for us right away, and as she got more confident with her stick skills we used her more on attack. And she’s such a good kid. She did what she had to do to be able to put in the time she needed, and is unselfish. She’s also able to rise above all the negative team dynamics.”    
“Actually, it’s incredible to watch Alicia play when you consider she picked up the game in her freshman year of college,” said Caitlin Powderly, currently in her first year as head coach of the Golden Knights women’s lacrosse team. “I’ve been involved in the game for 15 years and seen younger kids excel, but four years. How is it possible? It’s pretty amazing. My father, Paul, has been a coach for 35 years, and when we watched a game tape after I got her last year (late May) we both said ‘No way.’
“Her innate natural ability, I think, has helped her master the sport. She understands the game, and I think playing basketball and soccer helped her out a lot with lacrosse. She has great physical ability. She’s so fast at midfield, has a great stick and is able to pick up speed. She does everything 100 miles per hour. Dodging, coming in and taking shots, she’s hard to defend against. She gets a step on a defender, and she’s gone.”
Chace, in fact, has been a Liberty League all-star in women’s lacrosse in each of the past two seasons, including a 28-goal, 11-assist campaign last spring. So far this season, she has 11 goals and three assists and has controlled 20 groundballs in five games.
She also earned all-league honors in soccer for the first time this past fall after moving back to defense from midfield. In basketball, she moved from spelling the team’s guards to a starting role last winter and delivered career-best totals in points (146, 5.8 per game) and rebounds (95, 3.8).
Overall in her four year career, she’s scored six goals and added five assists for 16 points in 66 soccer games; amassed 286 points, 199 rebounds, 94 assists and 134 steals in 84 basketball games and scored 77 goals and 28 assists for 105 points and controlled 171 groundballs in 51 games.
Chace is majoring in mechanical engineering at Clarkson, and between academics and athletics has little spare time. “Last year was very hectic, with a lot classes and homework,” she said of her extra work load besides sports. “I have less classes this year, but there’s still quite a bit of work to do outside of class. It’s not too bad, but there are some long nights.”
Once she graduates this May, Chace will, of course, have some spare time on her hands. “It’s going to be different,” she said with a laugh. I’m definitely going to find some teams. I want to play slow-pitch softball in whatever area I end up in, and it would be nice to continue with basketball and lacrosse, too.”