Emily Banes at first laughed at the question. Then she owned up to it.
She is stubborn. It is an adjective that usually carries some baggage, but for the senior forward on the Towson women's soccer team, it is a recipe for success.
Banes' stubbornness has contributed to why she has already surpassed her career high with 28 points, which is tied for sixth in Division I. It has helped her score a career-best 11 goals, which is tied for 14th in the country. And it has allowed her to post a career-high six assists, which is the most by a Tigers player since 2011.
"I think you do have to be a bit stubborn because if I want something, I'm willing to work as hard as I can to get it," Banes said. "I think that's what my stubbornness does for me."
Banes' personal success has filtered down to the team, which has rebounded from a 1-15-2 record last season. Towson is 7-6-1 overall and 2-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Tigers — who travel to play conference leader William and Mary (6-1-4, 3-0) on Thursday night — are currently in fifth place in the league, which invites the top six teams in the standings to participate in a season-ending tournament.
Junior midfielder Taylor Knier said Banes, a native of Bethpage, N.Y., has "a Long Island attitude" that she uses to spark Towson.
"She pumps up the team a lot," Knier said. "She's very passionate. She's all in it. She has a big heart for the team."
Banes has been a major contributor for the Tigers since her freshman year in 2010. She had three goals and four assists en route to being named to the All-CAA rookie team that year. The following season, she took a positive step in her development, scoring eight goals and adding five assists.
But as the team slid last fall, so did Banes. She had just four goals and two assists and could not take advantage of playing with former forward Cheyenne Skidmore, who finished her career at the school ranked third in assists (20) and fourth in points (58).
At the end of the 2012 season, Banes and coach Greg Paynter sat down for a difficult conversation.
"We had some frustrating moments last year as a team, and she and I certainly didn't see eye to eye on everything…," Paynter said. "I think it's about trust that we have her best interests at heart, and we have to believe that she has the team's best interests at heart. There were times when you go through a losing spell that it's not always easy to see, and it goes both ways. So I think this year, she's been a great teammate, and I think most of the girls would say that. I think even with some of these individual goals that she has, I don't think anybody's seen that come into play. She's just doing what she can do to help us win, and she's obviously done a pretty good job of that."
Banes, who said she never thought about transferring or not returning for her senior season, added: "I was happy to have it because it was needed. Obviously, there were problems that went on last year on the team. So having a conversation got me more excited and relaxed about what was going to come next season."
While Paynter said he still disagrees with Banes at times, he doesn't mind her stubborness.
"Like any individual that achieves, they have a picture of what's going to happen," he said. "If you're not strong enough to stick to your convictions and what you want to accomplish, it's easy to get bumped off of it. We still don't always see eye to eye, but we've talked about it, and we can talk through some things. But it's about knowing what she's capable of and us continuing to help her reach that potential. She doesn't quit, that's for sure."
The difference in Banes between last season and this fall is dramatic. Knier said the passion and determination that defined Banes in the past has returned.
"Emily is especially playing fantastic this year," Knier said. "You can tell that she's very confident. She knows what she has to get done."
Banes hopes to soon become the program's all-time leader in goals and points. She has scored 26 times in her career, trailing Christi Landi's 27 goals. Banes also has 69 points, which is one shy of Landi's record in that category.
Those numbers are nice and might be meaningful later, but Banes said she is focused on trying to help the Tigers qualify for their first CAA tournament in school history.
"I think it would be awesome if we got into it," she said. "For everyone on this team, I think it would mean a lot considering we've been working as hard as we can this season and in the offseason. I know the seniors on this team, to be a part of that would be awesome."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun