Sophia DiCenso stood there at midfield. Her red USA-assigned Nike cleats a contrast to the turf of Walpole High. Her right hand was placed over her heart while her left held her lacrosse stick.
She stared straight ahead. The American flag was flapping while the Star-Spangled Banner played over the speaker.
It was just before DiCenso and the Foxboro High girls’ lacrosse team took the field in the MIAA Division 2 East Sectional title game, and right after she was informed that she had earned a spot on the 2019 United States Lacrosse Women’s U-19 National Team.
DiCenso will represent her country in the upcoming 2019 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Women’s U19 World Championship.
“It literally gave me chills,” DiCenso recalled of the feeling that day at Walpole. “It just got me so pumped up. I was just so excited because I was thinking how I just got the call. It was good timing.”
Good timing is an understatement. DiCenso was named to the final 18-player roster on Thursday before scoring six goals to lead the Warriors to the program’s first Division 2 East title the next day. She admitted to not sleeping Thursday night as the excitement of accomplishing one long-term goal intertwined with the nervousness of another.
The 18-year-old DiCenso will travel to Peterborough, Canada, for the 2019 FIL World Championships from Aug. 1-10. The process started with 500 applicants before 110 players were invited to try out. There were a series of cuts before the final roster was trimmed to 18 on June 14.
DiCenso said the process, which started as something she could not imagine “in her wildest dreams,” has since sunk in.
“It’s just been really cool, and like, yeah, you’re representing the USA, but you’re also representing Foxboro — for instance, my club team that I play for, the little girls that I’m doing privates (lessons) for, my family,” DiCenso said.
“It just means so much to so many different aspects of my life. It’s not just me. It’s so much bigger than me,” added the Richmond University-bound DiCenso.
An unparalleled talent in Foxboro
Simply put, DiCenso is among the most accomplished athletes to ever walk the halls of Foxboro High, not only for her success on the national stage, but because she rewrote the record books for the Warrior girls’ lacrosse program. DiCenso holds the school record in career goals (244), assists (142), draw controls (207) and total points (386).
DiCenso is a two-time All-American, and most recently competed in the All-American game at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore last Saturday. DiCenso scored one goal as her All-America North team claimed a 14-13 overtime victory over the South squad.
A four-time Hockomock League selection and two-time Hockomock League MVP, DiCenso netted 58 goals, collected 26 assists and had 67 draw controls during her senior season. She was named to the Division 2 Eastern Massachusetts First Team each of the last two seasons.
A two-sport athlete playing both lacrosse and field hockey during her four years, DiCenso was a senior captain for each. She was also named the winner of the “Warrior Award,” or student-athlete of the year, in representing the FHS Class of 2019.
“She’s one of the most selfless players and the hardest worker I know,” Foxboro girls’ lacrosse coach Brittany Sherry said of DiCenso, a frequent visitor to the brick wall outside the Foxboro High gymnasium with ball and stick in hand.
DiCenso spent hours out there, practicing the basics, whenever she felt like she had an off-game, Sherry said. The eight-year coach noted that the wall throws were much more frequent than the off-games.
DiCenso said Foxboro winning the program’s first East Sectional title was “such a good way to end” her high school career. She and her senior teammates graduated after winning four consecutive Hockomock League-Davenport Division titles as well. The Foxboro program has won eight straight.
DiCenso said adding to the trophy case made for her favorite memories over the last four years while recalling the program’s first win over highly-talented Medfield, 10-9, her sophomore year as another memorable moment.
DiCenso’s decade-long lacrosse career, including time spent with her Massachusetts Elite club program since eighth grade, has taken her many different places.
Most recently were the trips to California and Maryland during the U.S. tryout process, and she will be going to Chicago next week for the final training session before Canada.
But her longest stay will be at the University of Richmond, where she will begin her collegiate career.
“My family loves it because they get to travel around with me,” DiCenso joked in reference to parents Adam and Amanda, as well as siblings Julia, 20, and brother Alex, 23.
DiCenso committed to the Spiders during the summer after her freshman year, just one year into her high school career. She met with Richmond coach Allison Kwolek in January of her freshman year at an indoor tournament with Mass Elite and was invited to campus shortly after.
DiCenso was looking into the lacrosse programs at Boston College, Dartmouth, Stanford and UConn before Richmond was even on her radar. She wrote out a list of pros and cons, but joked Harvard was taken off that list after she spelled it “Havard.”
DiCenso said she knew which college she would be attending before her older sister, Julia, who was two grades ahead. It was a time before the NCAA prohibited early commitments.
“So many girls were committing that early so it wasn’t out of the ordinary,” DiCenso said. “I went down there and fell in love with it.”
DiCenso is excited to join Kwolek, the 2018 Atlantic-10 Coach of the Year, and the Spiders. She had her official visit in September.
“It’s just such a growing program,” DiCenso said of Richmond, which has went to six consecutive Atlantic-10 Championship games and won the last two. The Spiders’ success in the conference has led them to the NCAA Championships each of the last two years.
It’s safe to say many will be closely following the next steps, whether that be in Canada representing her country or her collegiate career in Richmond.
After all, DiCenso has been a fan favorite of the Foxboro Youth Lacrosse players. She attended a youth lacrosse jamboree in the days following the Warriors’ Division 2 East Sectional title, and she coaches private lessons with younger players at Compete Gym in Norwood.
“It’s fun because it’s giving back all the time that I put into it,” she said. “I worked with (former FHS standout) Abby (Tepper) and was in awe of her. I remember thinking ‘This is crazy, she’s going to play in college too.’ And so, it feels good to be a role model for little kids.”