Courtesy of AU ATHLETICS
In the span of a year, junior midfielder Emily Burton has gone from averaging just over one goal per game to becoming one of the top scorers in the country for the AU women’s lacrosse team.
“She’s really stepped into an upperclassmen role this year, and just her confidence with the ball [has improved],” AU Head Coach Laura Campbell said. “It’s really exciting to see. She is very consistent and dependable, and when she dodges, we know she’s going to score because that’s really what it comes down to.”
Burton, who began the week tied for 13th in the nation with 3.33 goals per game, has notched a team-high 41 goals on the season. The midfielder surpassed her goal total from 2011 just eight games into the 2012 campaign.
One of the things she’s improved most is her shot percentage, which has increased over 20 percent.
“I think that more shooting practice has definitely helped,” Burton said. “I’m also putting myself in better positions to shoot, so that’s helpful. Getting in a lot more shots in practice has made it easier to find the net in games.”
Burton has only been held scoreless in one contest throughout 13 games, and has dished out an assist in half of them. She also ranks in the top 90 players in the country in draw controls with 33, 29 more than her total last year.
Although Burton’s jump in production has been significant, Campbell says she isn’t really that surprised.
“For Emily, I have always had pretty high expectations, and I have been pretty hard on her since the day I’ve gotten here, because I knew how much potential she had,” Campbell said. “She’s putting herself into position to score. She’s made that decision this year. We’ve talked about her doing it last year, but now she’s really doing it, and she’s just a threat everywhere, and it’s really, really awesome.”
Burton said consistency has been the key to achieving success.
“I think for me, consistency has always been my biggest issue,” Burton said. “So when I realized I was contributing a lot each game, I felt confident with how I was playing. I think just looking at how we were playing as a team and how I was contributing, I think that really helped me to keep it going.”
Burton said her teammates have been helpful as well during her breakthrough season.
“It’s absolutely a team effort,” Burton said. “Lauren Schoenberger and I work really well on the crease together, and we look for each other for a quick pass or a quick feed. Kimberly Collins and Samantha Marshall are always looking for the feeds in the middle. We’ve been playing together in attack for two or three years now, and I think we’re starting to really come together and mesh well.”
One thing that makes Burton’s success this season so special is that she’s been able to keep it going during the most important part of the season: Patriot League play. She’s been terrific in conference games, tallying almost three goals per game and has been even better in draw controls.
Although her ability to pile up goals is what grabs most people’s attention, she’s also a terrific contributor in other ways, particularly off the field.
“She has the best personality,” Campbell said. “She just brings a lot of positive energy to the team. [She] knows when it’s time to chew her teammates out when they need it and she’s just a goofball too, which is awesome because sometimes that’s needed.”