Published May 02. 2013 4:00AM
Injuries always managed to derail Chelsea Phillips from playing an entire season with the Emerson College women's lacrosse team.
Finally healthy for her junior season, she made a major impact, leading the Lions and impressing other coaches with her sparkling all-around play.
"This year was her debut in a lot of ways," Emerson coach Megan Moore said. "She was everywhere on the field. Other coaches pinpointed her as the go-to player and she was still successful."
Phillips, a St. Bernard School graduate from Waterford, was so successful that she earned her first Great Northeast Athletic Conference first team honor. She finished second in goals (67) and third in points (78), both career bests, in the conference.
"It's exciting," Phillips said of the honor. "I didn't really expect it because I didn't play in the playoffs. I didn't know how if that would affect how they choose the team. I was really surprised."
She couldn't fully escape the injury bug, though.
Phillips sat out the GNAC tournament opener after suffering a concussion in the regular season-finale on April 20 when a Mount Ida player checked her in the head from behind in the final minutes of a 20-8 win.
"It was frustrating," Phillips said of sitting out. "It was really, really tough to watch."
The Lions definitely missed their leading scorer and captain, losing 9-8 in double overtime to Norwich University, a team it had beaten 18-2 during the regular season. Emerson, located in Boston, finished with a 10-7 overall record.
Moore noticed a big difference in her team without Phillips, a midfielder who led the team in draw controls (64) and groundballs (58).
"We definitely missed her," Moore said. "She makes everyone else play at the highest level. It was definitely noticeable. We weren't playing at the highest level."
Phillips credits Moore with making her a better all-around player.
Known as a lethal scorer at St. Bernard, leaving as the program's all-time leading scorer and a three-time all-state pick, she's worked hard to improve her defense.
Moore said that Phillips has a quiet intensity about her.
"She's very determined and a very skilled player," Moore said. "It's what makes lacrosse a fun game, watching her play.
"We tend to look at goals and assists a lot. She had a hand in five goals a game. But I think it's the other utility things that make her so valuable - her work on the draw, 50-50 balls and her work in the midfield."
Moore also praised Phillips for her leadership skills.
"She doesn't draw a ton of attention to herself except for her play," Moore said. "But she does have the ability to lead. She makes everyone else feel calm and confident and she's a great leader in that aspect."
Now if only Phillips could stay healthy.
Her freshman season was cut short when she lacerated her spleen and fractured some ribs after being tripped while attempting to score.
As a sophomore, she badly sprained her ankle and played only seven games.
She almost stayed healthy for the entire season this spring before suffering the concussion in the regular-season finale. Still, she finally showed what she could do.
"I had the best season of my life," Phillips said.
Her headaches recently subsided. She's eager to return to her workout routine and plans to get back into mixed martial arts. Years ago, she earned a black belt in karate and taekwondo.
The spring semester is winding down. When she transferred from Salisbury, she switched her academic focus to business and marketing. Phillips plans to spend the summer living in the Boston area, working and coaching Brookline youth lacrosse.
She's thoroughly enjoyed her Emerson experience.
"I love it," Phillips said. "I could say so many great things about this school. It was the best decision to come here. I love my classes, the city and my teammates. … It's going to be hard after next year. I don't know what I'm going to do."