Soren Frantz / Photo Editor

Joe Fletcher
Equinox Staff

Seeing a player make a direct impact for their first year playing at the collegiate level is rare to see.

Sophomore midfielder Haile Ratajack took care of business this 2021 season by winning the Little East Conference Midfielder of the Year, Rookie of the Year and to round it all off, All LEC First-Team. And don’t let the “sophomore” classification fool you. This was Ratajack’s rookie year for the Owls lacrosse team due to last year’s season ending early from the pandemic. While she only got a taste of what was yet to come, Ratajack took the down time to continue to perfect her craft and get ready for 2021.

“Having a lot more off-season gave me the opportunity to work on what I needed to work on,” Ratajack said. “Last year, losing the season, in my head I was like ‘Okay so we missed this chance, now we got to get better for next season.’”

This work ethic stems all the way back to her high school playing days. Ratajack said she started playing at a high level while still fresh in her career.

“I actually got to be on varsity my freshman year [of high school], so it was really a new experience to play with girls that were a lot older than me, so that was really cool and really challenging,” said Ratajack.

Ratajack first started playing lacrosse in eighth grade. Her head coach at Brewster High School, Sara DiDio, says Ratajack came onto the team with a good attitude, helping her to be able to adjust to the new tempo and elevate her game.

“I think she stepped in knowing that she wouldn’t get as much playing time if she would’ve stayed on the JV (junior varsity) team but I think she went in with an open mind and I think that freshman year it took a little time adjusting to the faster pace of varsity but sophomore year we were up and running,” DiDio said. “She was a big reason why we made it to the states (High School Championships) and why we made it to the semi-finals of the state tournament.”

Getting that competitive experience early in her career has led her to becoming a better teammate overall. Her high spirits and motivation translates to her teammates in Keene. Junior midfielder Emma Goodridge says her positive energy helps get the team going when practice seems like the last thing these players want to do.

“When the team is really down, like, when we just lost our game, and we’re all at practice the next day on a Monday after classes and we just don’t want to be there, [Ratajack’s] always like ‘Two hours guys, let’s practice, let’s be positive, just a few hours and we got this,’” Goodridge said. “That’s definitely very motivating, and she just always has a smile on her face, I never see that girl not smiling.”

With Ratajack accomplishing so much this season, she still always carries that team-first mindset. When asked if she has any goals she wants to make for next year, what she’s concerned about the most is creating that chemistry with her teammates and keep working towards a successful season in 2022.

“Just to get further than this year to sum it up,” Ratajack said. “We really clicked towards the end of this season, we didn’t really have that much time to play together and I think we’ve created an unbreakable bond over that short amount of time. The goal next year is to just keep working, get better and keep being who we are.”


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