CLIFTON PARK — She had too many options.
That was the (good) problem facing Kendra Harbinger this summer, as the standout athlete tried to figure out what was next for herself.
Should the former Shenendehowa High School star stay at UAlbany, and play soccer and lacrosse?
Maybe just one of the sports during her extra year of NCAA eligibility, which was granted because of the novel coronavirus pandemic’s impact on college athletics?
Or should she head elsewhere?
“My head was spinning,” Harbinger said.
With a decision made and the uncertainty behind her, Harbinger said Sunday she’s thrilled to know she’ll continue her college career at UMass, where the Clifton Park native will join a women’s lacrosse squad coming off a 15-3 season that included an Atlantic 10 Conference championship and a berth in the NCAA tournament.
“Once I was on campus, met the coach and some of the players, I felt at home again — like I did at UAlbany when I was going there as a freshman,” said Harbinger, who had entered into the NCAA transfer portal months ago.
The 22-year-old Harbinger earned her undergraduate degree from UAlbany this past spring in human biology. After graduating from high school, she had headed to UAlbany to play only women’s lacrosse, but then joined the school’s soccer program ahead of her junior year. On the lacrosse field for UAlbany, Harbinger was the America East Conference Rookie of the Year in 2018 and was an all-conference selection in 2019 and 2021 during a Great Danes career that saw her register 113 goals and 47 assists in 56 games. In her only season playing college soccer, Harbinger had two goals and three assists in 18 games.
“My years at UAlbany, I’m extremely grateful for,” Harbinger said. “I’ve grown as a person there and learned a lot. I love the school, love my teams. It was an amazing experience. UAlbany treated me very well.”
With the extra year of eligibility, though, Harbinger said she was interested in trying to find something new for her final year of college. Heading back to UAlbany and potentially playing both soccer and lacrosse for head coaches Leigh Howard and Katie Rowan Thomson, respectively, was an intriguing option, but Harbinger said she also considered heading to Siena to play lacrosse for Abby Rehfuss before opting to spend the 2021-22 academic year at UMass playing for head coach Angela McMahon.
In the classroom, Harbinger said she’ll study global public health at UMass.
“Everything kind of aligned and it felt like the perfect option for me,” said Harbinger, who spent part of her summer playing for the Albany Rush of the United Women’s Soccer League.
More academic work is likely ahead of Harbinger following the year at UMass, as she is planning for a career in nursing. Before that, though, Harbinger said she’s excited to continue her college athletic career at UMass.
“It’ll be a great new experience,” Harbinger said.