Each week, The Baltimore Sun will publish a Q&A with an area college lacrosse player to get you more acquainted with the player and his/her team. Today's guest is Loyola senior Ana Heneberry, the Big East Conference Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. A Dulaney graduate who followed her sister Mary to Loyola, Heneberry has played every game since her freshman year and is one of the team leaders in caused turnovers and ground balls.
Have you always played defense?
Not really. I started playing straight line defense when I was a junior in high school. I was always midfield previously. Senior year, I moved back to center. Then I got recruited to play defense and I was going to play anywhere Loyola put me, because I just wanted to be on this field. I wasn't going to be picky.
How would you describe your style of play?
I would say that I'm more aggressive. It's harder for me to sit back and let the attacker do what they want, so I try to take more control instead of reacting. I definitely focus on their stick a lot. I like to get that check in there if I can as opposed to always holding body position. Normally, I focus more on the takeaway, getting the ball out of their possession.
You had six caused turnovers in your first collegiate game. What do you remember about that day?
It was at Stony Brook. It was hailing, lightning and snowing, so I remember that part vividly. I was terrified obviously, being a freshman, but I got a lot of support from my teammates, and I think I had a mentality that I have nothing to lose, so I might as well go out firing and try to play the way I know how to play and not think about what's going on around me or what attacker I might be up against.
Have you gotten any yellow cards this season?
How do you think the new man-down rule has changed the game?
For us at Loyola, we do play a pretty aggressive game individually, so when we get our man down, we just go even harder to get the ball back. To be honest, it's not necessarily taking us out of our comfort zone, but I do like that it's only two minutes and when they score or we score, you can go back in. … It's never a good thing and it's never something to strive for, but I think the rules, ultimately, have been easy to adjust to.
How did you celebrate winning the Big East title and going to the NCAA tournament last season?
When that happened, we were all super-excited. We believed in each other, and I don't think it was shock but just pure joy in setting a goal and accomplishing it together and never giving up, because we had lost to Georgetown and Syracuse the two games right before the Big East tournament. We were coming in like, "We have to pull it together now." Just the satisfaction of being able to accomplish the goal that we set for ourselves was a feeling like no other.
After an up-and-down 4-3 start, what will it take to be more consistent heading into conference play Saturday at Georgetown?
We definitely know what we're in for and we look at conference play as a whole new season. Yeah, we've been up and down, and the whole team is still making adjustments, but the team gets along really well and our mentality is never giving up and playing until the end. No matter what comes out of this season, we're just going to give it our best and leave everything out on the field.
Were you surprised to be named Big East Preseason Defensive Player of the Year?
It was weird, because I was getting texts like "Congrats" and tweets, and I was like, "Thanks. For what?" I don't really follow any of that stuff, and then someone put the link on my Facebook. Defenders aren't the ones who get the most limelight, and I'm comfortable with that, but it doesn't hurt to get a little recognition. I was definitely excited and so honored.
What's next after college graduation?
I applied for a job in England coaching in a boarding school, a high school over there. I'm waiting to hear back on that. For summer, I'm coaching a club team around here that I've coached before. Lacrosse is everything I've done since 4 and 5 years old, so I'm going to try to stay immersed in the lacrosse world if I can.