Each week, The Baltimore Sun will publish a Q&A with a college lacrosse player to get you better acquainted with the player and his or her team. Today's guest is UMBC midfielder Alyssa Semones, who led the Retrievers in scoring last season after transferring from Penn State.
One of the top goal scorers in Carroll County history at Westminster, Semones had 32 goals and 12 assists last season. This spring, as UMBC opened 2-4, she is second in points with six goals and seven assists while leading the team in draw controls and caused turnovers.
Why did you leave Penn State?
A lot of it was me being homesick and wanting to be closer to my family. And there was the coaching change. I had originally committed with the old coach [Suzanne Isidor] and that played into it, but it was mostly that I got really homesick and wasn't really happy. Now, being 30, 40 minutes from home, I'm just a lot happier being able to see my parents a lot and my sister, because she just graduated [from college].
My decision was definitely more personal than lacrosse, because I loved playing there. I liked the team. I liked Missy [coach Missy Doherty]. A girl who played on my club team, Maggie McCormick (Liberty), I knew her and I knew Mackenzie Cyr (Winters Mill), but I just wasn't myself there.
Why did you come to UMBC?
UMBC was one of my top schools originally, and I really liked [coaches Tony Giro and Amy Appelt]. When I got my release [from Penn State], I sent an email to them. Tony called me as soon as he got the release. I looked at [James Madison] again too… but being so homesick at Penn State, I was too afraid to go to JMU, which is just about the same distance from our house as Penn State. I just wanted to be closer to home, and when I came here to visit, I really liked the girls on the team. I liked Tony and Amy and how they work with the team and how they do anything they can possibly do for us on and off the field.
Is lacrosse different at UMBC than it was at Penn State?
It is different. I think a lot of it is Penn State being a bigger sports school. Penn State obviously has football, so they probably have a bigger budget. They have bigger facilities and that kind of thing, but the game's the same. When you're at the D-I level, it's faster than high school, so from the standpoint of being on the field, it's more the same. We have a lot of really great girls on our team too.
My role is just kind of being the hustle player. The things I pride myself on are draw controls and trying to do a lot of things between the 30s [30-yard lines]. This year, I've been doing more ground ball-type things, draw controls and caused turnovers, rather than be the top scorer, kind of helping us get the transition going and pushing our fast break, because I think that's where we're most dominant.
Last year and in high school, you were a big scorer. Do you like this role?
I actually really do like this role. I try to work on putting together being able to still do all the stuff in between the 30s and being a little bit more productive on the attacking end. We also have a very balanced attack and a lot of girls scoring.
At 2-4, the season isn't going as you had hoped. What's it going to take to turn things around?
We've had a couple injuries and we've had to have some freshmen step up. … A lot of it is just confidence, and the past few games, I think we were getting a little down on ourselves because it hasn't been working the way we wanted it to. Just getting a couple wins together, getting people more confident and working well as a team, I think that will carry into conference and hopefully turn things around for us.
You scored over 1,200 points in basketball at Westminster. Do you still get a chance to play?
Not too much (laughs). I play a lot in the summer, but I think Tony and Amy would be pretty mad if I played basketball and ended up getting hurt. With all the injuries we've had, we don't need anyone else out. I'll shoot around sometimes, but I don't really get to play that often.
When you were being recruited, you said you wanted to go to a big football school. How do you fill that void?
Sometimes I miss having a big football atmosphere, but it's kind of cool here because lacrosse is bigger within the school. I'll go to Ravens games or Redskins games. Sometimes we'll go to a Maryland football game, so I still have opportunities to have that kind of experience in a little bit of a different way.
How is the culture of athletics different at UMBC without football?
Our guys lacrosse team is bigger and our guys soccer team was also very good, so that was a big thing in the fall. The men's soccer team was ranked second in the nation at one point, so that was really exciting. Without having the football team, I feel like it makes the entire athletic department a little bit closer. That's one thing I talk to my parents about like how at Penn State I didn't really know a lot of other different athletes that well. Here, they're the people you hang out with, so when you go to soccer games, you know everyone on the field. You have more of a personal relationship with them, so I like that aspect of it.