When Erin Doyle joined the Saint Mary’s College women’s lacrosse team at the start of the 2017-18 academic year, she never envisioned what would lie ahead.
“I had no expectations coming in. I remember the first day of practice being so nervous,” the Niskayuna High School graduate said. “I just wanted to play and be part of a team.”
These days, Doyle is a huge part of the team. You could even say she is the Belles’ star player, although you’ll never hear the modest midfielder say it. The numbers she has produced, including 303 goals in a span of 55 games, do that for her.
“My teammates have been so helpful for me,” Doyle said. “I have scored a lot of goals, but I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Doyle reached the 300-goal milestone with nine of them last Saturday in a 21-4 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association win over Albion that capped an extraordinary week for herself and for her team.
With those nine goals, Doyle became the 10th women at the Division III collegiate level to reach 300, and with Saturday’s victory, South Bend, Indiana-based Saint Mary’s (6-1, 10-4) secured a share of the MIAA regular-season championship.
“Seeing the other scores, we knew if we won, we could win the regular season [championship],” the 21-year-old Doyle said. “It was senior day. It was super exciting. It was probably the best game and the funnest game we played all season.”
The game didn’t start so well for Doyle, who came up empty on her first five shots before finding her groove. She scored six goals in the final 20 minutes of the first half to reach 300, and added three more as the Belles avenged an earlier loss to Albion.
“My brother [Tim Doyle] texted me before the game and said I needed six more,” Erin Doyle said. “I really didn’t want to know.”
Doyle had broken the MIAA’s all-time goals record of 118 the previous Wednesday when she collected seven in a 20-10 win over Adrian. For her two-game performance which included seven assists to go with the 16 goals, Doyle for the second time this season and for the seventh time in her Saint Mary’s career was selected the MIAA Women’s Lacrosse Offensive Athlete of the Week for contests through April 18.
“It was definitely a crazy week,” Doyle said.
Doyle’s team will be the No. 1 seed in the MIAA tournament and host No. 8 Alma Saturday in a quarterfinal game. Doyle tied her own school record with 10 goals when Saint Mary’s beat Alma earlier this season 19-7.
“My freshman year, we lost in the finals, and my sophomore year, we lost in the semifinals,” said Doyle, who was limited to six games in the spring of 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down college athletics. “Our main goal all year has been to win the conference and get to the NCAA tournament. Our school has never been there.”
At Niskayuna, Doyle was a member of Section II Class B title-winning teams as a sophomore, junior and senior.
“It helped a lot playing at a high level with and against Division I players, and with [Niskayuna coach Jason] Bach running the program. Playing club [with the Albany Elite] helped me, too,” Doyle said. “It definitely prepared me for college.”
Doyle scored 64 goals as a Suburban Council first-team all-star her senior at Niskayuna, and has been producing at an even greater rate since, with 92 goals in her first season at Saint Mary’s, 104 in her second, 38 in her third and 69 this campaign.
“My game has changed because in high school, I played attack, and when I got to college, I was moved to midfield,” Doyle said. “I play in front of the goal instead of behind now.”
Doyle has also accumulated 76 assists and collected 175 ground balls with the Belles.
“The girls will look for me, but if I am being guarded super tight, I am going to look for them,” Doyle said. “The ultimate goal in every game is that we win.”
Doyle will soon be receiving her Bachelor’s degree in mathematics. While her future lacrosse plans are uncertain (she has one more year of eligibility), she said she will be attending the University of Notre Dame next school year to complete a Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering.
Doyle’s sister Meghan, a 2018 Notre Dame graduate and two-time state soccer player of the year while at Niskayuna, was selected for induction into the New York State High School Girls Soccer Hall of Fame late in 2020.