Although this is her first year as a full-time starter, field hockey goalkeeper Kayla Lessard '13 plays like a veteran in the net, communicating with her defense while deflecting shots quickly and with no hesitation.
She has been a rock in the backfield of the NESCAC-champion team this season, leading the league with a 0.58 goals against average and ranking second with a save percentage of .827.
With her numbers this year, Lessard stands among the top five players in school history for wins (16), shutouts (nine), and goals against average in a single season.
In last weekend's championship game against Middlebury, the NESCAC's top-scoring team, Lessard made seven saves and held leading scorer Lauren Greer to zero goals even with five shots on goal.
Though Lessard was a backup her first two years and watched the team win last year's D-III title from the sidelines, Lessard wasted no time learning from her goalkeeping predecessor, Emily Neilson '11.
"Being a backup and observing [Neilson and the team] pushed me to work hard and get the starting job," she said.
Coming from a large Canadian family, Lessard learned to play hockey from her dad, and said her family members are her biggest fans.
"Family has always been a huge support for me," said Lessard. "They have been to every game."
Even though she started playing field hockey in middle school, Lessard credits her passion for the sport to her high school coach at the Westminster School, Bowdoin alumna Colleen McDonald '04.
"Colleen's obsession, competitiveness and passion drew me to field hockey," Lessard said.
Lessard has been an athlete ever since she could walk. In addition to goalkeeping for field hockey, she is also a netminder for women's ice hockey.
Even though she is a goalie in both sports, Lessard said that each demands a different mindset.
"Ice hockey emphasizes patience while field hockey emphasizes aggression," she said.
While at Westminster, Lessard played on the ice for both the school team and a club team in Boston. After attending classes six days a week, Lessard and her parents would drive two hours north for practice and an afternoon game.
Lessard said she relied on her competitiveness to play in high school, but once she arrived in Brunswick, Lessard said she realized that she had to perfect her technique and fundamentals to get more playing time.
Field hockey Head Coach Nicky Pearson praised Lessard's leadership, work ethic, and coachability.
"Her communication is vital," she said. "She challenges our forwards at practice so we have a double benefit: a better goalie and better forwards."
The sports editor chooses the Athlete of the Week based on exemplary performance.