Grace Gamache’s collegiate debut was delayed by six games, but that didn’t mean it was any less impressive.
The Dartmouth High graduate came down with mono during the winter of her freshman year at Framingham State and missed six weeks, including part of the preseason and the first six games of the regular season.
“It was a week before our first game,” she said. “I was super tired and out of energy, so I went to the doctor and they ran some tests. I was out of school for two weeks.”
But when the midfielder did get on the lacrosse field, she immediately made her presence felt, scoring two goals in her first game and 27 in her first seven, including four games with at least four goals. She’s been named MASCAC Player of the Week, Rookie of the Week and made the Honor Roll in successive weeks.
All this, despite still not feeling 100 percent in her recovery.
“I was definitely working my way back,” she said. “I wasn’t able to work out for a couple of weeks. I think that was the longest I’ve gone without working out. I had to get back in shape.”
Of course, piling up goals is nothing new for Gamache, who scored 215 in her four-year career as an Indian, including 76 as a senior when she was named Standard-Times Player of the Year. Framingham State had recruited her at a club tournament, and she connected with the school’s education program.
“Lacrosse was an extra bonus,” Gamache said.
Her mom works as a third-grade teacher at DeMello Elementary in Dartmouth and Grace hopes to follow in her footsteps as a second or third grade teacher.
Gamache was also joining several former opponents with the Rams, including sophomore midfielder Shae Riley of Fairhaven and fellow freshman midfielder Caitlin Baril from Apponequet.
“It’s really fun,” Grace said of playing with her former opponents. “You automatically have a good group of friends. It makes the transition easier.”
When she was looking at Framingham State, she spent an overnight with Baril, who has 15 goals, eight assists, 15 ground balls, four draw controls and eight caused turnovers this year. Baril, meanwhile, has two goals, five assists, 20 ground balls, six draw controls and nine caused turnovers.
Gamache’s stat line is even more impressive. In just seven games (six starts), she has 27 goals and three assists, leading the team in scoring and sitting second in points behind junior midfielder Kimberly Foley.
She has 22 draw controls (tied for second on the team), seven ground balls and three caused turnovers. Her shooting percentage of 83.9 percent is fifth-best in the MASCAC among players with at least 50 shots. She’s 10th in the league in goals despite playing four fewer games than anyone else in the Top 10.
“It’s definitely a lot more competitive,” she said of the college game. “It’s a lot faster and everyone is so talented that we play against. We’ve been in a lot of close games and that’s made me a better player.”
Now Gamache is looking to convert her self-improvement into more wins for the Rams, who sit 7-6 through Thursday and are tied for third in the MASCAC at 2-2 with Fitchburg State, Worcester State and Salem State. Framingham has finished within a game of .500 each of the last two seasons after posting a 2-14 record in 2014.
“We’re ready for a revenge season and to come out with a championship,” Gamache said. “Our team is one of the strongest it’s been.”
There are four regular season games left for the Rams before the MASCAC Tournament begins. At her current pace, Gamache will score 15 more goals, but the bigger question is how many wins Framingham can collect.
“I hope I can win a MASCAC championship and go far into the NCAA tournament in the next couple years,” Gamache said.
If her quick study of college lacrosse is a harbinger of her future ability to lead her team, don’t count against her.