The phone rang and on the caller ID came up a familiar name and number. It was Dartmouth field hockey head coach Amy Fowler.
She was calling senior Lisa Masini one afternoon after practice to let her co-captain and midfielder know that she had been selected to play in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division I Senior Game, an honor reserved for the top fourth-year players from across the country.
"I hope I can represent Dartmouth in a good light," Masini thought after hanging up the phone.
And there it was. In that thought, Masini expressed the selfless attitude that had made her both a great leader and an incredibly well-respected person by teammates, coaches, parents and anyone associated with the Big Green field hockey program over the course of the last four years.
In earning one of the nation's top honors for senior players, Masini was more concerned with how she would represent her school and program in front of the eyes of the collegiate field hockey community.
"I was pleasantly surprised and honored to be selected and not expecting to get that call. Having had two players (Virginia Peisch '11 and Kelly Hood '12) before me who I really looked up to participate in that game makes it even more special and something I am really looking forward to."
An All-Ivy Second Team player as a junior, Masini elevated her game again this fall and was tabbed to the conference's first team. But like her selection to play in the Senior Game, these individual honors are more of a reflection of work put in by the collective team, rather than herself alone.
"It's nice to be honored, but I just think it's hard to take credit for things you know you couldn't have done without the help of your teammates," the Ann Arbor, Mich., native said after the 2012 campaign had wrapped up.
"Sometimes it's hard for me to see the defenders not get the attention they deserve because they don't have points. That doesn't mean they aren't the best players on the field, it just means they're doing their jobs really well to make this team a success."
Masini, however, did have the points this fall to earn the individual attention that she seemingly shuns or redirects on to her teammates. A career-high nine goals matched her combined total from her first three seasons. The league leader in assists as a junior, she was more of an all-around offensive threat her final year in Green and White, finishing second on the team in goals and points (25), while once again leading the team in helpers (7).
Masini would've liked to take home an Ivy title in her four years, but knows that this year's 6-1 conference record and second-place finish is a great step for a program on the upswing since she arrived in 2009.
"Princeton is a great team with great players and everyone on our team played well when we met in September. It would've been great to get the Ivy title we thought we should've had last year, but it didn't come for us. That doesn't mean we didn't play well, though. Obviously with the record we had, it says a lot about the type of team we were.
"It's really sad to leave right now because this has been one of the best teams I've ever been a part of in terms of everyone contributing and having so much fun," she continued. "We've really played well together this year and it's been a great environment to be in during that time."
Fowler also knows that this was a special team and that had something to do with the play of her top midfielder.
"Lisa has grown and matured into one of the top, yet most under-rated players in the League and in our region. She is one of the most athletically gifted athletes I have ever coached and she can truly dominate a game with her speed, stick skills and vision," the 12-year head coaching veteran said.
"I'm very proud of our entire team this year. Lisa is a big part of our attacking threat and she also poses a significant defensive force in the midfield.
"She has had a tremendous four-year career and is fortunate to end it in a Dartmouth uniform playing against the nation's best seniors as well as US team members."
It may seem that Fowler never has to worry about Masini, just pencil her into the lineup and let her play. But the senior co-captain did acknowledge one point this season where her coach was forced to make a mid-game adjustment.
"You try not to focus on it, but I know that when I played my little sister this year, I started giggling on the field so Amy moved me to the other side of the field so I wouldn't be distracted."
All three Masini sisters have played Ivy League field hockey with older sister Kit and younger sister Anna both suiting up for Brown. Kit graduated last year, but the Bears soon filled its Masini quota with Anna as a freshman on this year's squad.
In her four years, Lisa never lost to Kit (3-0) or Anna (1-0) as Dartmouth dominated Brown in her time in Hanover.
"I'm not competitive with them, so I don't rub it in when we've won," she said. "Maybe I should, but I haven't yet."
Her real sisters aside, Masini will look back fondly on her time at Dartmouth thanks in large part to her classmates.
"I cannot imagine my four years here without those girls. It was great to have the same group all four years. We have so many memories together and have really grown up with one another," Masini explained.
"It was great to finish my career on such a high note, but I just wish I had another year with these girls." (
Lisa's recruiting trip to Hanover was made possible by the generosity of Mrs. Robert S. Engelman DW '34 DP DG and William & Marion Alexander DP through the Dartmouth Athletic Sponsor Program.
NOTE: This was written for the November issue of the Big Green Sporting News.