DURHAM, N.C. - College lacrosse rosters typically do not list point guards or quarterbacks, but Duke women’s coach Kerstin Kimel doesn’t hesitate to utilize those references from other sports when discussing her sophomore field general, Kerrin Maurer. In Maurer’s case the analogies are legitimate as she grew up playing both basketball and football before developing into an All-America lacrosse prospect.
Kimel’s first recruiting trip to watch Maurer compete was for a Catholic league high school basketball game on Long Island, where Maurer starred at point guard for St. Anthony’s. “Those are things we look for as lacrosse coaches — point guards. You want them on your offensive side of the ball,” Kimel notes.
Maurer had already stopped playing football by that point, but it was no less important to her formative years. From age 7 to 12 she was the only girl on a youth football team in her native Setauket, N.Y., though not the quarterback. As one of the bigger players on the team, she lined up at nose guard and offensive tackle. “It’s definitely helped me in a team sense,” says Maurer, a devout New York Giants fan who watches almost every game decked out in her No. 91 Justin Tuck jersey.
This spring Maurer is in her second year as a starter in jersey No. 9 for the Duke women’s lacrosse team, in a role Kimel frequently describes as the quarterback of her offense. She led last year’s team in points as a freshman, with 25 goals and 24 assists, and she got off to a fast start this season with team highs of 18 goals and 17 assists in the first seven games. As the numbers reveal, she is a playmaker equally adept at setting up teammates or creating her own shot.
And that’s a trait she traces back to her point guard training.
“I honestly think a lot of it comes from basketball,” Maurer says. “Being able to see the field, being able to see the defense and work the defense and see how they react is something I’ve always had a knack for. That’s why being in the attack and being able to see how the defense reacts is something I’m able to do.”
Kimel expected Maurer to be more involved in the fast-paced transition aspects of Duke’s offense when she was recruiting her. But when she and former assistant coach Josh Hexter were watching a recruiting tape of one of Maurer’s former prep teammates last winter, Kimel was struck by Maurer’s ability to see the whole field. “I remember showing it to Josh and saying, ‘Maybe we need to think about this for Kerrin’s role. She’s pretty good at it.’”
The Blue Devils had a need following the graduation of their previous “quarterback” Christie Kaestner, and Maurer seemed a promising fit. The decision looked like a winner when Maurer came up with three goals and five assists in her collegiate debut against Bucknell, and her evolution continued from there. “Now she’s a year older, and a year makes a big difference,” Kimel says.
Maurer originally learned the sport of lacrosse from her older brother Andrew, who played collegiately at Towson and New York Institute of Technology. Seven years her senior, Andrew used to throw the ball around with her in the backyard and before long, she was hooked. “Guys lacrosse is different than girls, but the way I play is sort of like guys lacrosse because of what he taught me,” says Maurer, who started off as a goalie, then moved to midfield and finally to attack.
Maurer began to focus more on lacrosse in high school when she gave up playing travel basketball about halfway through her prep career. But she still played both sports throughout her time at St. Anthony’s — plus volleyball in the fall. She helped all three sports win league championships at various times, and was selected all-state in volleyball.
“In general I have a passion for sports. In the summer I’ll play lacrosse during the day and then pickup basketball at night. That competition is something I have always loved,” says Maurer, who attributes that aspect of her personality to her father Robert. “He’s always pushed me in a certain way and expected the best from me, and that’s definitely helped me. No one wants to let their dad down, or let any of their family members down. It’s always been like he’s given me that little extra edge and that competitiveness that helps me to love sports and excel the way I do.”
During her junior basketball season, Maurer was involved in a car accident while traveling with some of her teammates. She broke both her left pelvis and her right ankle, ending her season and sending her into recovery and rehab. When lacrosse season rolled around, her St. Anthony’s team was scheduled to face another top-10 power, Good Counsel, and Maurer wanted to get back on the field for the showdown, even though her mobility was still limited. She ended up scoring eight goals and her team won in double-overtime.
“She has more heart and will to win than any kid I’ve ever met,” noted her prep coach, Corinne Broesler Lomangino.
Lomangino played her collegiate lacrosse under Kimel at Duke, graduating in 2004, and has built St. Anthony’s into a national force. During Maurer’s senior year, the Friars were ranked No. 1 in the country in a preseason poll by ESPN Rise, and the roster included an astounding 14 players who were committed to college programs. The team won the Catholic league title every season Maurer was there and overall went 31-5 during her last two years, when she scored 124 goals.
Maurer considered Lomangino an important resource during the recruiting process and says her coach encouraged her to go where she felt the most comfortable. Maurer first got turned on to Duke as a sophomore when Lomangino brought their team to the Triangle area to play some local schools. Then she came back in the summer for camp. “I just loved it — the program, the campus, everything. When I stepped on campus it was the right feel and right fit for me,” she recalls.
When Maurer and her teammates take the field this year, they walk past a sign in their locker room that features a picture of the NCAA championship trophy and the caption “Limitless,” which is the team’s mantra. “That helps us get our minds right for practice and games,” Maurer says.
The Blue Devils’ minds were in that right place for the start of a recent game against Vanderbilt, as they built up an early 8-0 advantage. But Vandy came back and eventually tied the score at 10. Then, says Kimel, Maurer’s intense competitiveness revealed itself again.
“Kerrin had two scoring opportunities that she made sure she finished,” Kimel explains. “They were questionable, both 8-meter shots on tough angles. Do you take it or do you not take it? She went in and in both situations threw great fakes and really saw the cage. That’s how I see her evolving. And her emotion after she scored really helped shove the momentum in our direction at a key point in the game when Vanderbilt was still hanging around.”
As Maurer will tell you, emotion and sport go hand-in-hand for her, whether she’s playing point guard, quarterback — or both.