As the inaugural season of the United Women’s Lacrosse League (UWLX) continues to progress, one of the incipient league’s greatest accomplishments is the gathering of star power. Not only is it a great sign of credibility to be able to see the rosters of UWLX stocked with so many notable competitors, it provides young female players with role models that they can look up to and aspire to emulate their success.
Among such remarkable role models is Alex Aust, an All-America selection who starred for the University of Maryland Terrapins. Raised in Sterling, Virginia, where she was a three-sport star in field hockey, lacrosse and basketball, she would carve her greatest athletic legacy in lacrosse.
In every one of her four seasons with the Terrapins, the program captured an Atlantic Coast Conference championship. Recognized as a finalist for the prestigious Tewaaraton Award, the honor of the IWLCA National Attacker of the Year was bestowed upon her during her senior season in 2013. Complementing such a career milestone was the fact that Aust also garnered the Synapse Sport National Attacker of the Year Award.
Extending her legendary lacrosse career in the Chesapeake Bay state with the Baltimore Ride, Aust, who has also donned the colors of the US national team, could not be prouder of the tremendous rise in momentum for women’s lacrosse. Getting the opportunity to grace the field of play in the inaugural UWLX season, it represents another bold chapter in her distinguished career,
“It is a huge honor to be a part of something so revolutionary in our sport. This is bigger than just lacrosse or sports. It is for women in general. We need to have the same opportunities as men in every aspect of life.
There are almost as many female athletes as male athletes in the country, so why not represent us in the sport we love? It is very rare in this generation that you get to be at the START of something. So it is a truly humbling experience to be a part of the first ever professional women’s lacrosse league with some of my best friends and old teammates.”
In addition to tremendous ability and great on-field vision, Aust’s greatest quality may be her leadership. Nowhere does that leadership shine more brightly than with Finish Line Lacrosse, where Aust dons many hats, all in the effort to provide opportunities for girls in lacrosse. Her tutelage has not only helped promising players improve their skills, but her sterling reputation as a mentor and accomplished star has proven to be essential in helping to organize top recruiting tournaments while creating opportunities for promising players that may not have been otherwise possible.
Among her other remarkable efforts, she has also served as the Director of Operations with the Maryland women’s lacrosse program and her empathic compassion as a sporting humanitarian has also shone. Named the first female spokesperson for the HEADstrong Foundation, it is a caring cause that supplies both complimentary lodging and accommodation for patients and their families traveling to Philadelphia for cancer treatment.
Aust’s role as an ambassador is one close to her heart as a family friend from her home town in Sterling, Virginia, afflicted with cancer made the sojourn to Philadelphia for treatment. Of note, the facility for recovery was one operated by the HEADstrong Foundation.
Fittingly, the state of Pennsylvania would play another prominent role for Aust. The community of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania would serve as the backdrop for the opening weekend of UWLX play. Of note, the Baltimore Ride would participate against the Long Island Sound in the first-ever game in league history. Despite the Ride being defeated in its debut, the greater triumph reflected the long overdue chance to see women gain the opportunity to play the sport professionally, something their male counterparts have enjoyed since the 1990s. Getting the opportunity to compete during the historic opening weekend of UWLX was a treasured moment in Aust’s superlative lacrosse career, as a remarkable gathering of talent and dedicated individuals, from league leadership, coaches and volunteers collaboratively contributed towards a new chapter for women’s professional sport in America,
“Playing on opening day was an incredible experience, one I will not forget and definitely made a splash. It was so cool to see everyone coming together, working hard, for one common goal – to promote the sport we love and push female athletes into the same spotlight as males. Women’s lacrosse is a fun, fast, incredible game. We just needed an outlet to show everyone!”
Also an Under Armor sponsored athlete, Aust’s strong playmaking abilities and team first approach have certainly paid positive dividends for Baltimore. As one of the roster’s most accomplished players, Aust would make her mark during the second week of league play. Although Aust is highly versatile, having graduated with 132 career assists from Maryland, her scoring abilities are equally impressive. Nowhere was that more impressive than in a game against the Boston Force. Aust would not only set a franchise record for most goals in one game, it would also stand as a league record.
In a week where six college graduates joined the UWLX, including fellow Terrapin Taylor Cummings, the only lacrosse player (male or female) to win three consecutive Teewaaraton Awards and Kayla Treanor, only the fifth athlete in Syracuse history to gain First Team All-America nods in her respective sport four straight years, the already strong level of play only increased to a higher level. With Aust calling Cummings and two other grads (Erica Bodt from Syracuse and North Carolina alum Mallory Frysinger) as teammates, momentum was high as Baltimore looked to capture its first win in franchise history.
Scoring the first two goals of the game against the Boston Storm, at Richard F. Garber Field on the campus of UMass-Amherst, Aust was looking to set a winning tone. As the lead changed hands multiple teams, it was already shaping up to become the best game yet of the young season. With the score at halftime reflecting a 7-7 deadlock, Aust would record a hat trick.
In the second half, Aust would score another hat trick, becoming the first player in UWLX history to accomplish such a feat. Considering that Baltimore would jump out to a 10-7 lead in the second half, it would come as no surprise to see Aust contribute with a pair of goals. Continuing the trend of the first half, the lead continued to change hands, as no lead was secure.
Scores of 11-10 for Boston, 12-11 for Baltimore and Boston reclaiming the lead at 13-12 would result in Aust simultaneously score both a game-tying goal and a record making sixth goal to tie the score at 13-all. Despite her league-record six goal performance (her finest at the NCAA level was a five-goal output against Virginia), she was not the only superstar to make an impression on this day. Kayla Treanor would make her presence felt with her own five-goal performance. Not only did her efforts help Boston regain the lead after Aust tied the game, she would log the game-winning tally with 41 seconds remaining in a 17-16 final, compiling one of the most legendary debuts in any professional sport.
Employing perseverance and doggedness, Aust’s efforts would yield the victorious outcome that the Ride had aimed for since opening weekend. As Week 3 play brought the Baltimore Ride to Sweeney Field on the campus of St. Joseph’s University, she would lead the way on the scoresheet for her team once again.
Providing an exceptional five-goal performance, her productive afternoon would culminate with Baltimore capturing their first win in franchise history. Taking on the Philadelphia Force, it was a meeting of the only winless teams remaining in UWLX. Early on, it looked like the Force would possibly emerge with a victory.
Kara Mupo, a teammate of Aust’s on the US national team, who would reach the century mark in career goals with the Northwestern Wildcats, made her mark early in the game. Akin to Aust’s solid performance in Week 2, Mupo would also log her own first half hat trick. Of note, she would score three of the first four goals in the contest, becoming the first player to register a hat trick in less than 10 minutes, accomplishing the feat in eight.
After a scoring drought for Philadelphia that lasted over 25 minutes, the Ride would rebuff with six unanswered goals, including a pair from Aust. Undeterred, the Force reclaimed their lead, ahead of Baltimore by a 12-11 margin, as neither team wanted to remain winless.
Baltimore would assemble an excellent offensive attack, tallying five straight goals, complemented by another goal by Aust, which was her fifth of the game. Upon acquiring the lead once again from Philadelphia, it would never be relinquished as the scoreboard showed a 15-11 in Baltimore’s favor. First overall pick Katie Schwarzmann would also score twice as nine different players from Baltimore scored at least one goal.
Coincidentally, the victory would mirror the loss that Baltimore previously suffered to Boston. Despite setting a record by scoring six goals, Aust could not lead her team to victory as Treanor’s five goals made the difference for Boston. In Baltimore’s victory, Aust would register five goals in the winning effort but Mupo would amass a game-high six goals, tying Aust’s single-game record.
Undoubtedly, the legendary performances of Aust, Mupo and Treanor shall be destined to intertwine them in a key chapter of early UWLX lore. As Aust reflects on the early weeks of UWLX play, pondering the remainder of the season, there is no question that her motivation remains high, ambitiously determined to not only make an impression, but contribute towards helping the sport and the league stake its claim as one of exhilaration, destined to earn a valued place in the sporting pantheon,
“This season, I hope to play the highest level of lacrosse anyone has seen. We have some of the most talented players, and with these new rules are able to do things that have never been done before. We want to make lacrosse fun to watch and grow enthusiasm around the sport.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Special thanks to John Archibald