When she plays lacrosse, Mount St. Mary's midfielder Nicole Price still has that excited, little-kid look in her eyes. She just loves the game.
Maybe that's because the North Harford graduate has switched through a number of sports during her high school and college careers, keeping each one new and fun. She even took her junior year off from varsity sports to pursue her passion for snowboarding with a winter semester in Utah.
Price came back to lacrosse for her senior year this spring refreshed and ready for a breakout season. In only her second season of college lacrosse, Price ranks second on the team in scoring with 33 goals and seven assists. On Saturday, she scored the biggest goal of her career with 21 seconds left to send the Mountaineers past Sacred Heart, 10-9, and into the Northeast Conference tournament, which begins Friday.
"We called that play for her. There was no doubt she was going to score," Mountaineers coach B.J. Lucey said. "She's a threat from anywhere on the field. We don't have to pigeonhole her into a certain role. We can use her in a lot of different roles in a lot of different aspects of our attack."
Some of that versatility comes from playing different sports — lacrosse, basketball and soccer at North Harford, and basketball her freshman year at the Mount. But ever since she got a snowboard for Christmas in the fourth grade, the mountains have called to her.
From January to April 2010, Price attended "Winter at Westminster," a full semester of study at Westminster College in Salt Lake City with five days of snowboarding each week. She hit the slopes at the area's top-notch resorts, went back-country skiing and snowboarding, and also got an education in career possibilities in the outdoor industry.
The snowboarding opportunities in the mountains surrounding Mount St. Mary's Emmitsburg campus appealed to Price when she chose her college. After she got that Christmas snowboard, it took only one run to hook her on the sport.
"I remember the first time, I don't think I fell going down. I just didn't know how to stop," Price said. "It's just a great feeling. From playing all the team sports, I like that it's more individual. If you mess up, you only hurt yourself."
Aside from the occasional winter excursion in the local mountains, Price thought about studying abroad, maybe in Italy, to fit more snowboarding into her college experience. When she discovered the Westminster program, it fit perfectly — not just into her desire to learn more about the sport but into her marketing major.
"It was to introduce us to the outdoor industry and give us the feeling of what it would be like to live out there," Price said. "I think we went to every resort in Utah, and then they had other events like snowmobiling and we went bobsledding at the Olympic Park. We went back-country snowboarding and skiing where we had to hike, and we stayed outside for a weekend."
Back at the Mount this spring, Price followed up a six-goal sophomore season with 33 goals and 40 points.
"She just has this new drive this year. She's kind of like on a mission," Mountaineers senior Alexis Salerno said. "She's not hogging the ball, she's looking around the field to see if she can assist or pass the ball, but she's driven to get that goal. I knew at the end of the [Sacred Heart] game she was going to get the last goal."
Price, 21, has two years of lacrosse eligibility left, and although she will graduate this year, she said, she plans to come back for one more season next spring.
"What's great about Nicole is that lacrosse is still fresh and exciting for her," Lucey said. "She's not tired of it, and she's still learning and getting better, and that's what's driven her to do the extra work. She's almost still like a little kid playing for the first time."