The idea of helping the young women’s lacrosse program at the University of Bridgeport grow into a winning team was a big draw for Horseheads High School senior Abbey Benesh.
Benesh signed a letter of intent Wednesday afternoon to attend Division II Bridgeport (Conn.), where she will receive athletic and academic scholarships.
“They’re a developing program just starting up and I’m excited to be part of a program where I can come in and make an impact right away,” Benesh said. “I’m excited to kind of challenge myself at the college level and get pushed at the next level.”
Benesh was joined at the signing ceremony at Horseheads High School by her family, teammates, administrators and Blue Raiders head coach Stephanie Walker.
“I’m really excited for Abbey,” Walker said. “I think she’s worked incredibly hard to develop as a player since the three years I’ve worked with her. I’m excited to see what she can do at the next level and I think she’ll be successful.
Benesh, a midfielder, is in her third season as a starter on the varsity team and earned second-team Section 4 all-star honors last season. She is a team captain and has 12 goals and one assist in six games this season.
She also played tennis for Horseheads and was a key contributor for the girls basketball team, which won Section 4 Class AA titles during her junior and senior seasons. However, lacrosse has always been her No. 1 sport.
“I definitely enjoy everything else I do, but lacrosse was more of an outlet for me and I just felt more in my comfort zone when I was playing it,” Benesh said.
Said Walker: “She is an incredible athlete. She’s successful on the tennis court, on the basketball court and now on the lacrosse field. But I think ultimately her expectations for herself are always high and she always pushes herself to be the best she can and I think that really shows in her performance.”
Bridgeport is in its fourth season and picked up its first victory two years ago. The Purple Knights are 3-13 this season heading into Sunday’s season finale. Kate Backman has been the team’s only head coach.
“They’re a developing program and I think she could be a huge asset to them right off the beginning of her career,” Walker said. “I’m excited to see what she can do and hope for her to be an impact player for the program.”
Benesh, a high honors student who plans to major in management and industrial relations, said she picked Bridgeport after making several college visits.
“When I came to Bridgeport it was kind of like everything was meeting the criteria I was looking for,” she said. “Everything matched up to what I wanted. I got to meet with the coach, I got to meet with the players and everything seemed like a good fit for me. I knew that as soon as I stepped on the campus.”