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March 29, 2016

Growing up with a family that played lacrosse, it is not surprising that Virginia women’s lacrosse senior Mary Alati was exposed to the sport at an early age. Her father played lacrosse at Maryland and Kutztown, and two of her siblings played in college. However, it wasn’t always her plan to follow in her family’s footsteps.

“I grew up playing a bunch of sports, not just lacrosse,” Alati recalled. “I played soccer and basketball all through high school with club teams and AAU. I wanted to play soccer in college, then when you reach 11th grade they want you to stop playing other sports and I wasn’t willing to give that up so I stuck with lacrosse.”

Once the decision was made to play lacrosse in college, Alati already knew exactly where she wanted to go after having the opportunity to visit colleges at the age of six.

“My oldest sister, who is 10 years older than me, started looking at colleges when she was around 16,” Alati said. “I would go on all the trips with them to visit schools. We came down to UVA and I saw the campus and loved it. I knew then this is where I wanted to be. I have pictures when I was in kindergarten of me wearing Virginia gear. I am glad it all worked out.”

After arriving in Charlottesville from Glen Ridge, N.J., Alati played in just three games as a freshman. She knew that there would have to be some changes if she wanted to make an impact for the team.

“My first year I was extremely quiet,” Alati said. “I was just nervous all the time and I think being surrounded by all the great players here encouraged me to come out of my shell a little bit and get comfortable. That helped me to come back my sophomore year with the mindset that I was going to work hard everyday to get on the field. Just knowing it takes a lot of work, but you can get to where you want to be.”

Alati’s increased confidence led to starting 17 of 21 games as a sophomore and starting all 19 games as a junior. During the last three years, those challenges have helped her grow on and off the field.

“I definitely have matured, not only as a lacrosse player but as a person,” Alati stated. “I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Each year has been a totally different experience and I never take for granted having each day in the locker room with my best friends and being on the field with them. Now that it is coming to an end I look back and wish I could have more time with everyone, but it has definitely been a great experience to be here and be part of the team.”

Looking back on some of the memories during the last three seasons, there was one game that really stood out to Alati.

“My sophomore year we beat North Carolina in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Championship to go on to the Final Four,” Alati remembered. “We went in as the underdog and nobody expected us to win. We went in with a clear mind and came out on top. It was the greatest feeling and awesome to be a part of that kind of win.”

This season, she has matured into one of UVA’s top midfielders and wants to continue to be a part of the success that has become a mainstay for the lacrosse program.

“It definitely is something you want to work towards,” Alati said. “We don’t want to settle or be complacent. We set the expectations high and that definitely makes it a lot more competitive. Each day in practice we know what we are working towards. You want to be able to say you were part of that as well so it just sets the bar high.

“I am just trying to take each game one at a time. We definitely want to have a winning season and go far in the ACC and NCAA Championships, but just take each day as it comes.”

As her UVA career comes to a close, Alati will graduate with a degree in history and hopes to get a job in marketing.

“I want to thank my teammates and my coaches for always believing in me during these four years,” Alati said. “Then my family, they have always supported me in everything that I do. They are not only my biggest fan, but my team’s biggest fan so having them behind me has been a huge help.”

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