JMU lacrosse had a historic year in 2018, winning its first ever national championship behind an extraordinary class of seniors that fueled its offensive success. While the Dukes were tearing their way through the competition, they weren’t just focused on winning in the present: The were quietly building toward the future.
All while the likes of then-seniors Kristen Gaudian and Elena Romesburg were earning conference, state and national accolades, a quiet, lesser-known talent was ripping her way through JMU’s scout offense.
Junior attacker Logan Brennan, the Dukes’ leading scorer through their first three games, has been one of the more consistent and efficient players to begin the year. She’s tied for ninth in the country in total goals (13) and has converted over half of her shots into scores.
From the outsider’s perspective, no one would’ve predicted such a hot start from someone who entered the season with a combined six goals in two years. Even in the preseason polls, Brennan’s name was left off each of the all-conference rosters. However, on the inside, Brennan had been tearing through zones and creating her own shots since her early days in a JMU uniform. All it took was a bit of time and the right opportunity before she had the chance to make her mark.
“We knew around this time last year that she was going to be the new face of our team,” head coach Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe said. “She was a scout player for us and was the top dodger on the team last year, preparing our defensive unit. I’m really proud of Logan for playing with a lot of confidence right now and taking the risk to take a lot of shots.”
For many Division-I athletes, making the jump from high school to college can be a frustrating experience. After being a US Lacrosse All-American as a sophomore, junior and senior, Brennan began her collegiate career with just two appearances in 2017.
Instead of growing weary or upset, Brennan used her time to study the game — maximizing the impact that playing alongside some of the most talented players in the country provides. With four teammates earning all-conference honors in 2017 and 2018, there was a lot talent and wisdom for Brennan to soak in.
“Last year and the year before, being able to watch definitely helped build my game a lot,” Brennan said. “I was able to learn from [the upperclassmen], they helped me build my confidence on the field too.”
The coaches are intentional in its slow development, making sure that a prepared class of athletes can replace stellar graduating classes. While they’re aware that throwing young athletes in the pool will result in them learning to swim, avoiding that approach ensures that none of them sink.
“We pride ourselves in developing our athletes,” Klaes-Bawcombe said. “You can be a junior on this team and, having never stepped on the field as a starter before, work toward being a dominant player.”
That systematic approach has resulted in the most First Team All-CAA selections (15) by any conference team since 2015, including three consecutive player-of-the-year honors. The most recent, Kristen Gaudian, sees a similar resemblance between the ways her and Brennan attack a defense and predicts similar future success for the rising striker. After using Brennan to prepare last year’s defense before games that featured strong dodgers, the team was well aware she was just waiting on the right opportunity to make her own impact on game day.
“We all knew how talented of a player she was but knew her junior year would be a breakout year for her once the senior starters graduated,” Gaudian said. “Watching her play with such confidence is awesome and I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
Humbled by the early attention she’s garnered this season, the Kingston, New York, native is appreciative that her work and studying has paid off. In a matter of two weeks, she’s affirmed her coach’s beliefs that she’d become the face of the team — filling some of the offensive prowess the Dukes graduated in 2018.
Brennan has her scoring and shot-creating abilities firmly intact, but she isn’t settled just yet. With months still lying ahead in the season, she’s dedicating even more attention to making herself a more well-rounded talent to open up opportunities for her teammates.
“I’m still figuring out the whole crease and everything, definitely still trying to find my role,” Brennan said. “I really want to work on making connections with some of the [midfielders], to be able to read their habits and be able to feed them more accurately.”
After a blistering start, Brennan has put opponents, fans and the CAA on watch. The conference already honored the JMU attacker as the conference player of the week following a nine-goal performance against Virginia Tech and UConn. If she continues her high quality play, the Dukes may have found their fourth-consecutive CAA Player of the Year — shattering the preseason list without her name.
Contact Blake Pace at email@example.com. For more lacrosse coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.