ALBANY — Throughout much of her high school career, Kendra Harbinger figured she would play soccer at the college level. It was only during her junior year at Shenendehowa she started to consider lacrosse could be the way for her to go.
Harbinger, a freshman for the University at Albany women’s lacrosse team, is tied as the Great Danes’ top goal scorer this season along with senior Emma Powlin.
“I’m just lucky I got this chance,” said Harbinger, who has scored 34 goals in UAlbany’s first 13 games.
Harbinger only started playing lacrosse outside of her school season midway through her high school career. She said she mostly had interest from Division III programs in the sport, but jumped at the chance to commit to UAlbany when the Great Danes showed interest. A self-labeled “homebody,” UAlbany was always where Harbinger wanted to end up.
“And I’m having a lot of fun here,” Harbinger said.
Especially recently, as the Great Danes have won six games in a row after an 0-7 start. UAlbany — which next plays 1 p.m. Wednesday vs. Notre Dame, a game added just weeks ago because both teams ended up with an opening on its schedule — is tied for first place at 5-0 with No. 1 Stony Brook in the America East, a conference in which Harbinger has been named rookie of the week six times this season.
“I’ve been very surprised,” said Harbinger, whose teammate Kyla Zapolski won the rookie award this week. “My goal was just to start.”
Harbinger is one of many players with Section II lacrosse roots excelling this spring at the college level. Josh Egan, an Albany Academy graduate, is a key contributor for the UAlbany men’s lacrosse team. At Siena, women’s team freshman Kerry Gerety (Guilderland) has won three MAAC Rookie of the Week honors, and men’s team freshman Anthony Tebbano (Shenendehowa) has ranked in the top 10 nationally in saves per game throughout the season.
Meanwhile, outside of the Capital Region’s Division I teams, even more local players have starred. Kyle Marr (Shenendehowa/Johns Hopkins), Stephen Rehfuss (Shaker/Syracuse) and Nick Testa (Niskayuna/Villanova) have each played key roles for ranked men’s teams. A number of players have starred at the Division II and Division III levels, as well, and three former Section II athletes — Niskayuna’s Jon Pfohl and Ballston Spa’s Peter Vadney and Hans Zimmer — are on the Le Moyne men’s lacrosse team that is 12-0 and ranked No. 1 in Division II.
Harbinger said the success of other Section II players at the college level helped her confidence as she entered her first season with UAlbany, a team that also gets key contributions from junior Kaylee Rickert (Bethlehem) and sophomore Jordyn Marr (Shenendehowa). (Kyle and Jordyn Marr are siblings; their father is University at Albany men's lacrosse coach Scott Marr.)
UAlbany interim women's head coach Jess Davos said Harbinger was a work in progress throughout the team’s fall workouts. Steadily, Davos said, Harbinger has made strides channeling her athleticism into the Great Danes’ system.
“She’s put in a lot of time to get to this,” Davos said. “It’s been a pleasure to have this come to fruition now.”
Following its game against Notre Dame, UAlbany heads to New Hampshire this weekend before hosting Stony Brook the following weekend to close out its regular season. After that, Harbinger said the Great Danes plan to make some noise in the America East tournament.
“Every practice,” Harbinger said, “we’re getting better.”