Often dubbed the “fastest game on two feet,” lacrosse is definitely a running sport. Players fly up and down the field in seemingly perpetual motion. For some, this emphasis on movement and fitness might be daunting, while for others, it’s precisely what makes the game so great.
Count Erin Barry as part of that latter group.
Watch a Penn women’s lacrosse game for only a few minutes, and you’re sure to notice the constant activity of #2 from the midfield.
One moment, she’s scoring a goal in front of the opposition’s crease, and the next, she’s sliding her feet on the defensive end, staying in front of the other team’s top attacker.
The junior midfielder from Manhasset, N.Y. simply does not stop — ever.
Even as a freshman, Barry’s endless energy and desire stood out.
“Every drill, Erin goes 100 percent, trying to win every single drill,” coach Karin Corbett said. “Her effort level is absolutely off the charts, and even as a freshman, she started to push the team from behind. Just seeing a kid that goes all-out no matter what she’s doing really inspired the rest of the team.”
According to Barry, that dogged determination to win can be traced all the way back to her childhood.
“When I was growing up, I had two older brothers, and we always hung out with my family friends, which included three more boys,” Barry said. “We were always playing together, and I was always in the mix there. It was always ‘Erin and the boys.’ I was always running around with them, being very competitive.”
Combine that competitive spirit with a self-proclaimed love for running, and Barry’s success on the lacrosse field makes perfect sense.
As Corbett says of her star midfielder, “Erin doesn’t care how tired she is. She’s going to step onto the field, and for two hours, she’s going to be thinking only about winning every single drill.”
That singular focus on winning has certainly manifested itself well for Penn over the past few seasons, especially this season, as Barry has established herself as a do-it-all force for the Quakers.
Not only is she the team’s third-leading scorer and leading midfield scorer with 19 goals on the year, but she also serves as one of the team’s defensive anchors and primary draw controllers.
“She’s a big person on our defensive end, but she’s just as big on the offensive end,” Corbett said. “Some midfielders will be better at one aspect and direct most of their efforts there, but Erin just gives effort all-around, to all aspects. She’s invaluable to us on both ends.”
Despite all that she does on the field, Barry’s contributions to the team are not confined to game day or even to practices.
She understands that her role as an upperclassman extends to the locker room as well.
“Freshman and sophomore year, I looked up to the upperclassmen so much,” Barry said. “Now, transitioning into my junior year, I’m trying to give back everything that the juniors and seniors gave to me, and I’m trying to be more of a mentor to the younger girls.”
As far as mentors go, the Penn underclassmen couldn’t do much better than Barry. But to be like Barry is to strive to beat her, a task that is certainly easier said than done.