Maria Auth, a 2016 graduate of North Harford High School, graduated from Penn State University May 9, with a degree in bio-behavioral health. A mixture of biology, psychology and different health aspects.
A couple months before that, Auth, an attack on the women’s lacrosse team, saw her senior season cut short. And yes, like the multitude of athletes across the United States, the stoppage was a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Auth and her teammates had played seven games and just like that, it seemed, a solid college lacrosse career was finished.
“My time at Penn State, honestly, was the best four years of my life. I made that decision to come to Penn State when I was so young, I’m so glad I made that choice, I don’t regret it at all. I had such a great time,” Auth said. “I really met by best friends up at school, we talk every day and I know I’m probably going to have them for the rest of my life."
Auth had scored 22 goals and assisted 11 others in those seven games and with 180 career points, was well on her way to easily pass the 200-point mark. The 200-point mark was a goal of Auth’s.
“A mix of Obviously, I was devastated when it came to an end and it ended way, too soon and for me, I had been there with my class, my senior class, the last four years and having our careers end that way,” Auth said.
Only it wasn’t the end, at least for Auth.
“Obviously I get a fifth year, but not everybody gets to take that fifth year, so having it end like that was so devastating, but I completely understand why it did. There are way bigger things in the world than lacrosse,” Auth said. “Every part of Penn State is just an incredible experience from academics, it’s such a great school to go to and for the school spirit at football games and all that and then just competing at the highest level, whether it’s at practice or in games. Every single, day you’re competing against the best players in the country, which is such a cool experience.”
That’s what led to Auth figuring out way to get bet back.
“It just made the decision to come back super easy. I love Penn State so much, I love it with all my heart and I love playing lacrosse and I love my team, so I was just not ready to say good bye to that yet,” she said. “It’s just such an incredible experience, getting to play at such a top level that I wasn’t ready to put the stick down and call it a career. I’m really grateful I get to come back and excited for the opportunity.”
Auth’s time on the lacrosse field has been rewarding. In her junior season she was named first-team All-Big Ten, selected Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week once, and she earned Academic All-Big Ten honors.
Auth played in 16 games, including 14 starts, leading the team with 46 points, including 32 goals and 14 assists. In Big Ten play, Auth led the Nittany Lions with 22 points and 17 goals.
As a sophomore, Auth was selected Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week once and again, named Academic All-Big Ten.
She started all 20 games and led with 71 points, including 54 goals and 17 assists. She scored in 19 of 20 games, including 18 multi-goal games.
In her freshman season, Auth played in 19 games, making two starts. She had 18 goals and 12 assists.
Heading back in the Fall, Auth will be enrolled back in the school, preferably with grad school classes. “I’m in the process now applying to grad school, so I’m waiting to hear back about that,” Auth said. “Regardless if I get into grad school or not, I’m going to be taking a full course load so I can be academically eligible. You have to take a full course load to be eligible to play."
A different grad school and Auth wouldn’t have been able to play lacrosse again. “You have a vision of how you want your career to end and that was not how I was ready to say good bye to playing lacrosse,” Auth said. “For me, I had to find a way to make it work, there was really no question for me, I had to come back.”
The pursuit of the grad school degree is a two-year program. “The long term goal is to become a counselor at the end of this,” Auth said.
One year into this next phase and lacrosse will end for Auth, but hopefully there’s more in a give-back role in the future.
“One thing that this experience has taught me with our season ending, is that I am not ready to put down my stick and I for-see next year, I’ll feel the same way even after an extra year,” Auth said. Anyway I can stay in touch with the game and pass it on to the younger generation, I’m all about them. I had that dream of playing college lacrosse when I was a young kid, 6 years old, so if I can inspire a kid that age and get them to the level that I am now, that’s the ultimate goal right there. That’s what it’s all about."