Each week, The Baltimore Sun will publish a Q&A with a college lacrosse player or coach. This week's guest is Towson senior defender Michelle Dufault. The two-time All-Colonial Athletic Association second-team selection leads the Tigers (8-7) with 24 caused turnovers and has 72 for her career, fifth on Towson's all-time list. Dufault has started every game of her career and Friday night against Johns Hopkins in her last home game, she will start for the 74th time, more than any other player in Towson women's lacrosse history.
Growing up in the Rochester, N.Y., area, what brought you to Towson?
A lot of things did. It had a great lacrosse program and a great campus and surrounding community. I loved it all. When I came here to visit, I thought, "This is the perfect place for me."
Have you always been a defender?
No. Actually, I used to play midfield. My sophomore year of high school, that's when they stuck me in defense because they needed me there. I always was a better defender than attacker in my mind and my high school team (Fairport) really needed me there, so that's where I played. I loved it.
It is a challenge. It's fun. It's a great feeling when you're stopping the best attacker on the team in one-v-one. It's a great feeling to get a caused turnover, being involved in a double team with your teammate. I always said I had a greater feeling getting an interception than I did getting a goal when I played midfield. It's exhilarating to me. It's competitive. On Towson, the girls that I play defense with have a special chemistry together and it's a lot of fun to be playing with them and with our goalie Kelsea (Donnelly).
What's the trick to causing so many turnovers?
You've just got to go for it. You've got to be patient though, and I wasn't always the best at getting caused turnovers. I was just so concerned about not getting beat on a one-v-one. Throughout my whole career here, I've just practiced and practiced to get those caused turnovers, to try to manipulate the attacker so they would do what I want them to do. If they want to go left, I'm going to say, "No, no. You're going to go right." A lot of times I'm able to manipulate them into what I want instead of to what they want and that allows me to get the check or to force them to make the terrible pass or the terrible shot.
The Tigers have had an up-and-down season, finishing 3-3 with the fourth seed in next weekend's CAA tournament. What's most important if you're going to win a fourth straight conference title?
Just giving it our all and just going for it and having fun — that's how we're going to win. We have the talent. We work great as a team. We have had our ups and downs in the conference and that's OK. We have such a young team and we're learning from our mistakes and I think we're in a perfect place right now to come out and win. Being an underdog is awesome.
With one more start, you'll have started more games than any other Tiger. What does that milestone mean to you?
There's no words to describe that. It's just a really cool feeling and it kind of humbles me to move past great players, great teammates and great leaders and it's just an amazing feeling. I would never think this would happen. I never thought that I would start every game since freshman year. It's just being part of a great team. I may have the most starts in Towson history but that's because my team allowed me to by winning all those games and getting to the NCAA Tournament. I owe it all to my teammates because they did a great job.
What are your plans after graduation?
I would actually like to join the United States Marine Corps. I want to be an officer in the Marines.
I always wanted to serve and I've been very patriotic. Funny story — my brother, who's also serving in the Air Force said if he ever went into the military if would for the Marines and now he's in the Air Force and I want to go into the Marine Corps.
What do you want to do as a Marine?
I don't know exactly what I want to do. Right now I'm just focusing on getting in, then I'll focus on passing training and then I'll decide what I want to do. If I pass the physical and the college board selects me, I leave for training (Officer Candidates School) in September.
I read that you were interested in coaching. Is that still in your future?