The name Lexi Brannigan didn’t ring many bells for Capital Region lacrosse fans a year ago.
The Colonie midfielder put up pedestrian-type numbers in 2009 as a sophomore with 20 goals and nine assists.
But Brannigan broke out of her “sophomore slump,” as Colonie coach Marylou Vosburgh likes to call it, with a dominating junior season in which she set the single-season school record for goals and total points.
“We really had a long chat last summer about where I saw her leading us in year three,” said Vosburgh, who just finished her third season with Colonie. “We have a whole plan since I came here to turn around the program, and she was a key essential component of what we needed to do to get things done.”
And leading is exactly what Brannigan did.
Her 67 goals this season broke Janelle Bradshaw’s record of 56, which was set in 2003. Brannigan also added 31 assists for 98 points, good enough to break another school record.
“Coach Vosburgh needed someone to step it up this year, and I took that upon myself. I wanted to be a leader,” Brannigan said. “She jokes that I was in a sophomore slump, so this year, I definitely didn’t want that feeling like last year.”
Brannigan took her sophomore performance, as well as the lengthy conversations with Vosburgh, to heart. She attended summer lacrosse camps at Syracuse and Cornell, further refining her skills for her junior campaign.
As if Vosburgh’s challenge wasn’t enough, Brannigan became a three-sport athlete this year. She played soccer in the fall, and ran indoor track in the winter to maintain a consistent level of conditioning.
“[Track] made me go into the lacrosse season mentally feeling really positive,” said Brannigan, whose events included the 600- and 1,500-meter runs. “Physically, I was probably in the best shape of my life.”
Not only did track help with her conditioning, but also with her bursts of speed — a much needed skill set for a midfielder who is required to play both offense and defense.
Former Bethlehem standout and Syracuse All-American Katie Rowan had her first look at Brannigan at the Syracuse camps last summer, and instantly knew she was going to be something special.
“She stands out as one of the top players,” Rowan said. “She is really fast, and has good stick skills.”
Brannigan could be considered somewhat of a late bloomer, in terms of lacrosse experience. She began playing lacrosse in middle school, but grasped the game quickly.
Vosburgh was hired as Colonie’s coach prior to the 2008 season, and like Rowan, she knew what she was going to get out of Brannigan.
“When you’ve been doing lacrosse as long as I have, you can see in five minutes what type of player you have, or what type of player they will be,” said Vosburgh, who has coached field hockey and lacrosse for 25 years. “She had some real nice basic skills when she came in that we needed to build on, and she has really developed nicely as a player so far.”
Brannigan’s ability to get to the net with ease helped the Garnet Raiders finish 8-6 record in the Suburban Council, their best record to date. Behind her, Colonie has become a league contender.
“She really put Colonie back into being one of the top teams in the Suburban Council,” said Guilderland coach Gary Chatnik. “She pretty much runs the show there.”
Brannigan immediately grabbed the attention of opposing teams and coaches after pouring in seven goals on two occasions in Colonie’s first four games.
Her finest performance came April 10 in an 18-9 loss to Shaker when she scored seven of Colonie’s nine goals.
“That’s when she decided ‘That’s it, I’m going to get it done by myself if I have to,’ and it was the best game she played all year consistently,” Vosburgh said.
Brannigan was consistent enough to finish in the top five in Section II’s three major statistical categories — goals, assists and total points.
As if her accomplishments on the field weren’t enough, Brannigan excels in the classroom, as well.
She has been a mainstay on Colonie’s honor roll and high honor roll during her first three years, and is also a member of the school’s jazz band and National Honor Society.
“Lexi gives her utmost to each thing she’s involved in,” Vosburgh said. “She works very hard to make sure she maintains balance in her life. She’s done that pretty well with all the things that are on her plate as a junior.”
Brannigan, like most high school athletes, has dreams of playing lacrosse at the Division I level when it comes time to graduate next June.
In order to keep her skills fresh, she will play in the Empire State Games in July, where Vosburgh and Rowan will both serve as coaches, and with the Albany Elite travel team, coached by Chatnik.
Brannigan attended the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse tournament finals over Memorial Day weekend in Maryland, and got to see the nation’s top lacrosse players in action.
Brannigan said she hopes her performance this season grabbed the eye of Division I coaches, but Vosburgh thinks everything will fall into place if her level of production increases.
“If it’s Division I she wants, it’s Division I she’ll get,” she said.
Vosburgh called Brannigan “one of the nicest girls” she’s ever coached, which is a true testament to her complete package.
“She’s just a great kid. She’s a pleaser,” Vosburgh said. “She wants to do her very best for herself, for her family, for Colonie and for me.”
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