CLICK HERE for the original article on centralmainesports.com by staff writer Matt DiFilippo.
WATERVILLE — Sarah Merrill, the first-year women's lacrosse coach at Thomas College, is talking after practice about senior midfielder Brittany Premo.
"She's the girl to go for the draws, and in the midfield," Merrill said. "She's a powerhouse when it comes to that."
About 10 seconds later, Merrill realizes that doesn't really do justice to all of Premo's contributions. So she lists some more.
"She's kind of like the go-to girl for anything on this team," Merrill said. "She can put the ball in the net. She can pick up ground balls. She can cause turnovers. She's amazing at the draws. Her defense is phenomenal. She's just really like a brick house, to be honest."
Premo, who is originally from Concord, N.H., is second on Thomas in scoring with 28 goals and six assists (the leading scorer for the Terriers is Gardiner grad Jenn Day, whose 46 goals in 10 games place her eighth in Division III in goals per game). Premo leads Thomas in both draw controls and caused turnovers.
The Terriers are 7-3 this season, and are the No. 2 seed in the North Atlantic Conference tournament. They'll host Colby-Sawyer at 4 p.m., Wednesday, for a spot in the NAC championship game.
"This year's definitely a new team compared to last year, with six new freshmen," Merrill said. "But we finally have come together, and I think that we have a pretty good defense now, along with a great attack and midfield."
Premo's introduction to Thomas came at a college fair, where she filled out a survey. Not long after, Thomas field hockey coach Andrea Thebarge called Premo and asked how long she had been playing field hockey. Premo ended up visiting the campus and meeting with both Thebarge and then-women's lacrosse coach Lauren Bickford, both of whom made it clear they wanted her on their teams.
"I always dreamed about playing sports in college, but I didn't know if I had athletic ability that would qualify me for a college spot on a team," Premo said.
That question was answered quickly, as Premo became an immediate contributor in both sports. She finished her field hockey career with 28 goals and 14 assists, and heads into Wednesday with 109 goals and 25 assists on her lacrosse stat sheet.
Along the way, Premo has seen the Terriers grow. The year before she arrived, Thomas women's lacrosse was 4-11 overall. The Terriers improved that to 5-7 in Premo's freshman year, and have followed that up with three consecutive winning seasons.
"It's been awesome," Premo said. "Especially coming in as a freshman and not really having a lot of players on the team, so freshman year is kind of the building blocks of the team that we were last year. We grew into a really great team."
Last year was still bittersweet for the Terriers, as they lost 10-9 to Castleton in the conference championship game. Officially, Castleton's winning goal was scored with one second left.
"It's definitely fueled our fire to come back even harder than we did last year," Premo said, "because we felt as if we were robbed of a victory that we rightfully earned. Reliving that moment every time we play Castleton makes me want to win even more, to show them that we're not just a program to shove off anymore."
That fire manifests itself in Premo in several ways. She pulled a hip flexor in field hockey this fall, but still missed only one game. It still affects her to the point where she says she feels "like an old lady gimping around" when she's not playing lacrosse.
"I could run a whole (field hockey) game, but as soon as I was done, and as soon as I took the wrap off, I could barely walk, it hurt so bad," Premo said. "So I would kind of gimp around after, and I'd just want to lay in bed all day."
"She's tough," Merrill said. "She'll fall and she'll cry. She'll get right back up."
The Terriers lost 16-6 to Castleton at home last month, but they also got right back up. Thomas has been off since April 15, and Premo and her teammates are ready to make a playoff run.
"I'm very excited. I can't wait," Premo said. "Like, I've been waiting for this the entire season. Yeah, we played some games, and we won some games, but this is where I want to be right now."