Most collegiate lacrosse players would be happy to accomplish in a career what Penn's Zoe Belodeau has accomplished in the first half of this season.
However, what separates her from most players is that the Maryland native is only a freshmen. In her first nine career games, Belodeau paces Penn women’s lacrosse in draw controls (47), is second in points (35) and assists (15), and is third on the team in goals scored (20).
With at least six games remaining, Belodeau is already only 10 points shy of tying Erin Brennan's single-season school freshman record, set in 2009.
Besides being at or near the top of every relevant offensive category for the Quakers, Belodeau was also one of only three freshmen named to the midseason Tewaaraton Award watch list, an award known as the “Heisman of college lacrosse.”
Still, her impact on the team goes beyond her stats. In the biggest games, the freshmen has provided the spark for the Quakers.
In her second career game, Belodeau notched four goals against Johns Hopkins, including the game-winner with 52 seconds left. On the play, senior Caroline Cummings hit a streaking Belodeau, who stuck the shot in the top right corner.
In addition to scoring clutch goals, the freshman also knows how to celebrate them.
“Just in that moment I remember almost trying to tackle Caroline Cummings right after that and everyone just swarming each other,” Belodeau said. “It was such a big team moment because we knew we came together. There was such a big buildup for a team moment.”
Over spring break, her clutch play continued. With Penn failing to break away from a struggling Drexel squad, Belodeau scored the game-tying goal early in the second half. The goal provided the momentum necessary for the Quakers to pull away in a hard fought 16-11 win.
However, her biggest performance came in her seven-point outburst at No. 19 Duke. In a game featuring ranked opponents, Belodeau hit on all dimensions, accounting for nearly half of the Quakers offensive output in a 15-11 win.
She led everyone on the field with seven points and five goals, in addition to leading her team with three draw controls.
“It was a surreal moment to play against a team you’ve been hearing about your whole life.” Belodeau said. “Just being able to have done that was such a confidence builder because it doesn’t matter who we are playing. We are Penn and we can play to the best of our abilities."
After the Duke game, Belodeau racked up more individual awards, winning Inside Lacrosse National Rookie of the Week and Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week.
Amidst the accolades, her early success should not come as much of a surprise.
Coming into Penn, Belodeau had lofty expectations. InsideLacrosse.com ranked her as the No. 18 recruit in the country and No. 5 at her position.
Even with the high expectations, Belodeau is outplaying her high school ranking. As of now, Belodeau has more points and draw controls than all the attackers ranked ahead of her coming out of high school.
Still, the transition between high school and college is tough for any athlete with the increase in physicality and skill level.
“I did not expect to play as big of a role. I did expect to be humbled and rethink a lot of my game,” Belodeau said. “I’ve been pretty lucky that I can even contribute to the team's success at all.”
The Tewaaraton Award watch list honoree pointed to the team's upperclassmen like Alex Condon, Cummings, and Emily Rogers-Healion as the main catalysts for her success.
“They were extremely welcoming and told me that ‘we don’t want you to play like a freshmen. We want you to play to the best of your abilities and we know what you can do,’” Belodeau said. “It’s been so fun to be apart of.”
Her coach echoed similar sentiments as the upperclassmen.
“What we saw in her was a lot of vision and a really good stick,” coach Karin Corbett said of Belodeau as a recruit. “She impresses me everyday in what she can see and her decision making. She is a kid who has confidence and pulls the trigger quickly [in front of the net.]”
Penn lacrosse is going for its third straight Ivy league title this year, and with Belodeau’s continued strong play, the Quakers look well on their way.
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