The Temple lacrosse team have won nine straight Atlantic 10 games, are ranked 19th in the nation and is led by Noelle Cebron, a candidate for A-10 Player of the Year.
Ask Cebron if she minds the attention, and you will get a very modest answer.
“I don’t think anyone on our team wants that much attention,” said Cebron. “We’ve never got this much exposure before.”
Well, maybe they should.
The Owls returned all but one starter from last year’s team, which won the conference title and received a berth into the NCAA Tournament. A squad that is ripe with experience, Cebron is the driving force, capable of putting Temple in a winning position.
“Noelle is the quarterback on our attack and she has really stepped it up her senior year,” Temple coach Kim Ciarrocca said. “She scores goals, she gets assists and makes us a better team.”
Cebron is currently third in the conference in scoring with 52 points and leads all players with 24 assists. She is a natural creator on offense, who is always looking for the cutter. Moreover, Cebron concedes that her ability to set-up teammates for scoring opportunities is coupled by her sense of outsmarting opponents and understanding how each teammate likes to receive the ball.
“She studies each individual and knows how fast they’re going to cut through,” said junior Deanna Radcliffe. “She’s real good at reading where everyone is on the field, and whenever she gets double-teamed she knows somebody is being left open, so she looks to dump it off.”
On her passing, Cebron said, “It’s not how you pass a girl the ball, but how she likes to receive it. Just by knowing and understanding everyone when they’re going to make they’re cuts, where they’re going to come from, what angle they like to shoot at it’s like doing research.”
Cebron grew up in Yorktown, N.Y., where she was a three-time state champion and an All-American. Despite her outstanding achievements, Cebron’s high school coach noted in her recommendation that she “was not graced with athletic ability.”
She chose Temple because she wanted her father (Cebron admits to being a “daddy’s girl”) to have the opportunity to see her play, but the first two years at Temple were a disillusioning transition.
Cebron said when she was a freshman on the team she received some unpleasant treatment from senior star Kelly Ruch, who made her feel very unwelcome.
“I learned early how not to treat people,” Cebron said.
Now a senior herself, Cebron said, “I love our freshmen. They’re so willing to learn, so how can you not like someone if they’re willing to try their hardest?”
When asked about the team as a whole, she said that this was the best one she has played on, and its strongest part was that everyone understands their role on the team. All of the girls have strong personalities, so there is a high level of respect for one another.
A lack of recognition from lacrosse observers has fueled the fire for Cebron and Co. who are treading through this season playing one of the toughest non-conference schedules (No.1 Princeton, No.3 Virginia) and dominating its conference play.
“All that matters to me is that we’re winning,” said Cebron.
She said the team has a chance to go beyond the first round of the NCAAs.
“I think we can make a hell of a lot of noise in the tournament, because nobody is expecting it, and a good seed could determine how far we go,” she said.
Following the loss to top-ranked Princeton, the Owls cruised past LaSalle 19-4, sparked by Cebron’s five assists, which tied for the second most in a game by an Owl. Two days later she shredded St. Joseph’s for seven goals and three assists in a 21-3 triumph.
Prior to this she had been named A-10 Player of the Week twice in a row.
“Noelle is like a coach out there, who has an amazing head for the attack,” senior midfielder Robin Keevan said. “She’s finally getting the recognition she deserves.”
Jason Haslam can be reached at Jasonhaslam@yahoo.com