Fresno State junior midfielder Caroline Dineen-Carlson (3), a team captain and returning leading scorer, is one of the team’s go-to players. (Darlene Wendels/The Collegian)
In 2015, the Fresno State lacrosse program set a record for most single-season wins, and it enters 2016 with hefty expectations and a team captain to help lead the attack.
This preseason, junior midfielder Caroline Dineen-Carlson was selected by coaches and teammates as one of three team captains along with upperclassmen Sophia Aragon and Chyna Hill.
“[Being elected a captain], it means everything,” Dineen-Carlson said. “It’s really special that my team thinks of me that way, and I’m just super fortunate to be able to lead them the best I can.”
The Coronado, California, native is coming off a solid 2015 sophomore campaign in which she netted 30 goals – a new single-season scoring record – on her way to earning Second-Team All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation honors.
In addition, she is equipped with experience. She has started every game since arriving on campus in 2013, but despite being the returning leading scorer and one of the team’s go-to players, she doesn’t let the pressure consume her.
“I’m OK with it [the pressure],” Dineen-Carlson said. “I try not to think about the stats at all and just play my game and go in with a clear head every game. It’s a little pressure, but it’s not anything I worry about.”
The beginning of Dineen-Carlson’s lacrosse journey dates back to middle school when one of her siblings first introduced her to the sport.
“My older brother played lacrosse, so I would just play around with him like out in the street,” she said. “I started liking it, so I went to a couple camps and started playing.
“I always wanted to [play in college], that was the goal. I thought watching college games was always really neat, so that was always my end goal. When I started going to tournaments, I hoped I would be good enough and I just did everything I could to make myself good enough. Once I came here, I knew this is where I wanted to be.”
Dineen-Carlson’s versatility to play both offense and defense comes in handy – especially at the midfielder position – but her speed is one of her key attributes that sets her apart and allows her to contribute the way she does.
“My speed is very important as a midfielder,” she said. “We’re constantly running back and forth all over the field, so I think it’s really important to be able to get back on defense and then get back on attack as fast as we can. Also, being a leader all over the field – not just in one position – is really important for me.”
“One of the biggest things I focus on is my draw controls because that’s what starts off the play,” she added. “So if we get the draw control, it makes it that much easier for us to score a goal.”
With three goals through the first two games this season, Dineen-Carlson is on pace to put up 20-plus goals, but a team accomplishment, like making the postseason, is what she would like more than anything.
“The team goal is definitely to go to playoffs,” she said. “That’s the No. 1 goal for me this year.”
Fresno State head coach Jessica Giglio expects her junior team captain to set the tone this season – both as a leader and as a playmaker.
“She’s a great leader on the field,” Giglio said. “She brings a lot and has worked very hard in her three years here – transitioning to a midfielder and being productive on both ends of the field. I think the other piece that Caroline brings is she scores goals and she’s a playmaker. We try to get the ball in her hands, so she’s definitely someone that we really look for to lead the attack.”