By Katherine Dunn, The Baltimore Sun
4:37 PM EDT, May 9, 2013
Working in naval intelligence seems a perfect fit for Jasmine DePompeo's first assignment when she graduates later this month from the Naval Academy. For years, she's seen things on the lacrosse field that others don't pick up on.
The playmaker for the No. 11 Midshipmen, DePompeo excels at setting up her teammates from behind the crease. As the attacker watches a play develop, her mind flips through a handful of options as she looks for an opening to whip a quick pass through. If it's there, she'll find it.
DePompeo set a Patriot League single-season record with 65 assists this spring. In leading Navy to its first-ever home NCAA tournament game Friday night, she also set four other conference scoring records, including 161 career assists, which ranks fourth in NCAA history, and 10 assists in a game, which matches the second-best total in NCAA history.
The only three-time Offensive Player of the Year the Patriot League has ever had, she can finish strong too, scoring 55 goals, including two double-overtime game-winners last month. She leads Division I in scoring with 120 points but has become best known for her poise in the settled offense and her keen eye for the cutters.
"She's really the face of this Navy team. She defines who we are," coach Cindy Timchal said. "What makes her a great player is that even when she's face-guarded or double-teamed, she's very confident in what she can do. She's resilient in that she's ready for everything that's thrown at her. Part of that is really having a cool head and being poised under pressure."
DePompeo, easy to spot on the field with her sunglasses and bright pink headband, said she didn't always want the ball in those pressure situations.
"Cindy would always tell me to want the ball more than I do, so I've worked on that over the years," DePompeo said, "I'm ready to take those shots now if the team needs it, but I'm absolutely confident that any other person on attack is ready to take that shot, too."
She's ready and willing to feed any one of them for the last shot.
That confidence, not only in herself but in her teammates, is one of the things that makes DePompeo so successful as a feeder and as a leader, according to one of her favorite targets, sophomore attacker Loren Generi.
"She really is the anchor to our offense," Generi said. "She keeps us calm. In those double-overtime games, she's the one who got us through and calmed us down. She never thinks we're going to lose those games. She has the confidence. She's a great player and a great leader, and she knows how to get everyone on board with what she's doing."
In her four years, the Midshipmen have become increasingly successful, winning four straight league championships and three straight NCAA play-in games. This season, their sixth as a Division I program, they posted their best record, 18-1; they lost only to two-time defending national champion Northwestern, 15-12, on March 11 in a game that was tied with 15 minutes to go.
This season, with the expansion of the Division I bracket from 16 to 26 teams and the elimination of play-in games, Navy not only earned a berth in the tournament but also is one of eight seeded teams hosting the first weekend of action; Monmouth will visit Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium at 5 p.m. Friday.
DePompeo, 21, deflects the credit to a team that has grown in talent and depth, but she's the captain on the bridge.
Monmouth coach Denise Wescott knows how dangerous DePompeo can be after watching her score five goals and dish out two assists in Navy's 16-4 win over the Hawks in the fourth game of the season.
"She's an incredible athlete," said Wescott, a former Maryland starting goalkeeper. "There's a lot of things that go through her for their team offensively and she's a player that wants to take on the pressure. She's so threatening that you try to pay attention to her, but if you pay too much attention, she'll find her teammates."
DePompeo would like nothing more for than for her lacrosse career to end at Championship Weekend, even if it means missing the pomp and circumstance of graduation in Annapolis on May 24 when the national semifinals will be played at Villanova.
"It would be unfortunate, but I think the president would understand," she said with a laugh. "No one will be mad if we make it to the final four."
As she winds down her lacrosse career and her time at the Naval Academy, DePompeo is looking forward to traveling through South America, especially to Machu Picchu, before returning to Annapolis to work with the new lacrosse recruits during plebe summer.
During their indoctrination, plebes have a few hours a day to play lacrosse, and DePompeo, 21, hopes to ease their adjustment to academy life and help them begin to develop the bonds with their teammates that will provide so much support for the next four years. For her, the all-girl respite of lacrosse helped ease the daily rigors of academy life.
In the fall, she will hang up her lacrosse stick for a little while and report to intelligence training school in Virginia Beach to begin her five-year service commitment.
Until a couple weeks ago, DePompeo was on course for flight school, planning to become a flight officer, the person who works with the pilot by operating the on-board electronic systems. She then found out she was medically disqualified from aviation because of knee problems likely developed from playing sports.
She overcame her disappointment quickly and was already excited for her new assignment when it became definite earlier this week.
"I've been looking into it a lot, and you can do so many things, which is really cool," she said. "Anywhere there's a ship or a squadron or a base or anywhere in the world, they need intelligence officers. It's a lot of collecting and analyzing information and briefing it to whoever you're working with so they know the enemy, what they're doing with weapons, the landscape, pretty much anything you need to know going into a mission."
The assignment gives DePompeo a new way to develop her sharp eye for detail. After all, she's been analyzing the action on the lacrosse field for years, and she nearly always finds the best way to proceed.
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