Kelly O'Connell never felt far from home during her four years at the University of Denver. She had a large part of home right there with her - her closest friends, Megan Carver and Danielle Provance.
After playing lacrosse together at every level since third grade, the three Seton Keough graduates headed west four years ago to complete their athletic careers together.
"It's been a lot of fun," O'Connell said. "Not many people can say they've played 10 years together. It's been a great experience and I think we're all glad we had each other. That's why it never felt like we were that far away [from home]."
With the exception of Carver's redshirt sophomore season, all three have played in almost every game since their freshman year. They have helped the Pioneers stay consistenly in the top 20 during their tenure.
While Carver's 47 points rank second on the team this season behind Stephanie Coyne (Bryn Mawr), O'Connell and Provance are leaders on defense as the Pioneers have gone 8-5 and are 1-0 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation heading into a stretch of four straight conference games.
O'Connell, a three-time All-Conference selection, said she can't remember when the three weren't friends. Among them, they have eight older sisters and their friendship followed those of their sisters. They started playing recreation soccer in first grade and have shared everything since, although they didn't initially set out to go to college together.
But when Denver's coach at the time, Cathy Reese, recruited them, they visited the school together and liked everything about it.
"It was a lot different [from home], but it still felt kind of the same," O'Connell said. "We didn't feel like we were that far away. We were lucky, because we played on the East Coast all the time so we were constantly back there and we saw our families all the time."
While O'Connell and Provance are about to graduate, Carver has one year of eligibility left after a knee injury sidelined her for her sophomore season. She plans to continue her undergraduate studies and play again next season.
St. Bonaventure goalie Eboni Preston (Westminster) has done about all she can to keep her team in games this season. The senior has faced 335 shots and has a .532 save percentage, fifth best in the nation. Through the first 10 games, she made an average of 13 saves game to lead Division I. Her current average (11.75) ranks fourth in the nation.
Preston, who has made more than 500 career saves, kept the Bonnies close in the six one-goal games they've lost - three in overtime, including one last month to then-No. 14 Oregon.
Johns Hopkins senior Kadie Stamper needs six draw controls to tie the school's career record of 202. ... Towson junior Hillary Fratzke has scored at least a point in all 45 games of her career and has scored at least one goal in 40 straight games. ... With Friday's win over Bucknell, Navy clinched a berth in the Patriot League tournament in its first year as a Division I program. ... Sunday's 11-10 victory for No. 1 Salisbury over No. 2 College of New Jersey had seven lead changes and eight ties before Sue Ackermann scored on a free-position goal in overtime. ... UMBC's Ali Levendusky needs three goals to tie the Retrievers' single-season record of 54.