BENNINGTON >> The game of lacrosse has been a love for Mount Anthony's Emily Altland ever since she picked up a lacrosse stick at seven years old.
Following in the footsteps of her older brother Nick and even teaming up with him to play on the youth boys lacrosse teams in Mount Anthony Lacrosse Association, Altland became a fanatic about the sport and that same love and enthusiasm stays with her on at the high school level.
"Lacrosse is a family sport for me. I have been playing it with brother since I was little and my dad has coached me throughout my youth days, so lacrosse holds a special place in my heart," Altland said. "It's something I love to do."
Altland is the leading scorer and a captain on this year's Mount Anthony squad that has gone 15-2 and is set to play in the Division I championship on Saturday at 4 p.m. against Middlebury at Burlington High School.
Starting out playing with the boys, including her brother — two years older — Altland learned a lot of the tricks of the trade that has helped her become a scoring machine for the Mount Anthony girls lacrosse team now.
This season, Altland has scored a team-leading 79 goals and is a big reason why MAU will be playing in the title game.
"I think definitely playing with boys first helped me grow quicker as a player," Altland said. "I learned the basics of the game from there and since it's just been practicing that over and over to the point where it feels second nature to me to shoot and score."
She admits it was tough at first adjusting to playing in the girls game. For example, the stick is different and she said she had trouble throwing and catching in transition. But the junior was able to get comfortable quickly and use the tools she used from playing with the boys to her advantage on the field.
Despite being double and even triple-teamed in most games this season, Altland continues to score goals in bunches, including a game-high seven in the Patriots' 11-10 victory over CVU in the semifinals.
"Emily is such well-rounded player and she is a student of the game," said MAU coach Whitney Brooks. "She has a great knowledge of the game. She knows what she needs to do to get better and better each year and most importantly she knows how get others around her better. You can definitely see from her hard work and determination that she has a passion for the game of lacrosse."
Besides being the team's leading scorer, Altland has also tallied the most assists, so she's proficient in both areas. She's also done a great job of being a leader for the Patriots, helping her teammates get better in practice and encouraging them during games.
"She is not afraid to putting the betterment of the team in front of herself," said MAU coach Chloe Griffin. "She knows when to make the extra pass and help get our offense going on and off the field. She helps her teammates get better and the way she handles herself as a player is something that our younger players want to strive to be."
One thing is for sure, Altland believes she wouldn't have achieved any of her accomplishments with out her teammates.
This season Altland reached the 200 goal mark in her career during the Patriots win over rival Burr and Burton in their regular season finale, making her only the second player in school history to do so.
In the two playoff games since, Altland has scored 12 goals and now currently sits with 212 career goals, 11 shy of Emily Cross's school record of 223 goals.
"Me and Emily have been playing together since MALA and it's been a blast playing with her," said MAU junior Brianna Zipprich. "We play on the same summer league team too together and we train together in the off-season to improve our skills. It's just great playing with a friend like Emily and it's great that we get the chance to experience this journey of play for a state championship together."
From scoring goals to dishing out assists, to being a leader and a friend, Altland's love for the game of lacrosse that was instilled in her since playing with her brother and dad growing up has continued to stay with her and she and her teammates embark on trying to win MAU's second state championships in program history.
"I give my parents all the thanks in the world for helping me get involved in lacrosse," Altland said. "From my family's support to the help that my teammates give me on the field to help me get to this point in my career is just amazing. I couldn't thank them all enough for how much they have helped me become a better player and person. My performance this season is all thanks to them."