CAZENOVIA — On April 3, former Cazenovia High School (CHS) Lakers and current SUNY Geneseo teammates Molly Brown and Meg Seeley were named the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Women’s Lacrosse Offensive and Defensive Athletes of the Week, respectively.
The players were recognized for their performances from March 26 through April 2, during which they helped lead the Geneseo Knights to a 3-0 week, defeating SUNY Buffalo State, Clarkson University, and SUNY Plattsburgh.
“We are proud of Meg and Molly for earning conference awards,” said Geneseo Women’s Lacrosse Head Coach Marykate Edmunds. “They work incredibly hard during their preparation, and it’s nice to see that pay off on the field for them and their teammates.”
According to SUNYAC’s announcement of the Athletes of the Week, Brown earned 17 points on 11 goals and six assists that week. Against Plattsburgh, she earned her 100th career point and finished the game with four goals and three assists. In a 12-9 win over Clarkson, she tallied four goals and two assists, and against Buffalo State, she earned three goals and one assist.
Seeley and the Geneseo defense limited their opponents to 14 total goals, including just two goals allowed to Buffalo State and three to Plattsburgh. Seeley posted 13 ground balls and four caused turnovers.
“SUNYAC looks at all players from all teams that played games that week and looks at who has the most impressive statistics from the games combined,” explained Seeley. “Basically, the MVPs of that week for each position — offense and defense. . . It was awesome to get recognized for our great play that week, especially with Molly getting awarded too. She is an amazing player, and since she [plays] offense and I [play] defense, we are constantly battling in practice, making each other better players. Molly is like the younger sister I never had.”
For Seeley, who was named a 2023 Lacrosse Preseason All-American, recognition from SUNYAC is also valuable in helping her to reach her goal of becoming an All-American for lacrosse at the end of the season.
Brown said receiving the Offensive Athlete of the Week award was exciting because the team had just come off a great week playing against some competitive teams, and because it was a testament to the work the team has put in so far this season.
“We have been working a lot on our offensive sets, trying to tweak the little things to make our offense as dangerous as possible,” she said. “To see the work we had put in as a team pay off during our games was really awesome, and I know it will continue to pay off as we move ahead in our schedule.”
Seeley, a senior at Geneseo, joined the varsity lacrosse team her sophomore year and graduated in 2019. Brown, who is an academic junior but an athletic sophomore, graduated from CHS in 2020 and played on the varsity team from her freshman through senior years. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, her senior year lacrosse season was canceled.
Seeley and Brown started playing the sport together in fifth grade through Upstate Lacrosse Association, a lacrosse little league for girls.
“The community of Cazenovia brought us up to be the players we are today,” said Seeley. “There are so many teachers, coaches, parents, and friends to thank for our success.”
Seeley pointed specifically to her family friend Dawn Rajkowski, who encouraged her to give lacrosse a try; her junior varsity coach, Lauren Connors, who also played lacrosse at Geneseo and inspired her to attend the school and join the team; and Caitlin Byrne, her varsity coach and teacher, who remains one of the girls’ biggest supporters, consistently keeping up with their collegiate successes and reaching out.
“I can say that my junior varsity coach, Lauren Connors, [who was] also my Spanish teacher, and Ms. Byrne taught me that it’s not all that serious and to have some fun while taking our talents and aggressive play of the game to the next level.”
Byrne, who has coached the CHS Varsity Girls Lacrosse team for the past 12 years, said she was immensely proud of Seeley and Brown and commended them for being phenomenal athletes and lacrosse players, and even better people.
“They have had excellent college careers so far, and I am excited for all that is to come for them,” she said. “[I’m] forever cheering them on. . . Both Meg and Molly were forces to be reckoned with on the lacrosse field in high school, and I love to see that that hasn’t changed. They led by example, always gave 100 percent, had the best attitudes, and left everything on the field. We always felt incredibly lucky to have them on our team.”
On Thursday, April 6, Byrne remarked that due to COVID restrictions and the fact that varsity and college lacrosse are in season at the same time, she has not been able to see Seeley and Brown play in person since they have been in college.
“If all the stars align, I’m hoping to change that and surprise them at their home game this Friday,” she said.
The Knights started practicing this season at the end of January. As of the morning of April 6, their record was 7-2 overall and 4-0 in conference play.
“It was an adjustment after losing 10 of our players because they graduated,” said Seeley. “. . . The team is looking pretty good, [and] I am excited for our games coming up. We have a lot of strong, skilled, players. Geneseo is a team people should [fear].”
One of the players the team lost last year was Cazenovian Megan Henderson, who graduated from CHS in 2017 and went on to have an impressive five-year collegiate lacrosse career. She is now assistant coaching for the University of Rochester.
Seeley said she attributes a lot of her success in lacrosse to Henderson and her family.
Seeley, Brown, and Henderson all played on the varsity lacrosse team the year that Seeley and Brown got pulled up from junior varsity and Henderson was a senior. By that time, Seeley had already played soccer and indoor track with Henderson and had recognized the qualities that make her a great athlete — speed, ambition, passion, and leadership.
“She was someone Molly and I looked up to a lot during our years at Caz,” said Seeley. “Megan was captain of all our sports teams, which got passed down to me in [in the years after she graduated]. Megan committed to Geneseo to play lacrosse. Before then, I had little knowledge of SUNY Geneseo. I can’t express how much fun it has been to play with my two best Caz friends Molly and Megan. Though we are all separated by age, we played as one unit on that field — Molly [as] the offensive attacker, Megan [as] the midfield, and me [as] the defense. To say we grew to become sisters is an understatement. . . Every accomplishment, achievement, and win felt incredible with Molly and Megan by my side.”
Brown, who started playing lacrosse in third grade, credited her two Caz teammates for influencing her decision to play for Geneseo. She also said they helped her to adjust to being away from home and to continue to learn and develop as a player at the collegiate level.
“A big part of my decision to play lacrosse at Geneseo came from knowing some really great people already on the team at Geneseo,” she said. “I had always looked up to both Meg and Megan in high school, so I thought, ‘If the two of them chose to play at Geneseo, it must be a pretty great place.’ I was welcomed into a positive and empowering atmosphere and onto a team filled with really talented, smart, and good people, just like Meg and Megan.”
Last season, Brown, Seeley, and Henderson helped lead the Knights to Round 2 of the 2022 NCAA Division III Women’s Lacrosse Championship.
2022 was the first year Geneseo had made it into the NCAA tournament since 2014.
According to Seeley, the news that they were in the tournament came as a shock because usually only teams that have won their conference championships qualify, and the Knights had lost to Cortland in the SUNYAC championship 14-16.
Seeley said the conference loss was particularly upsetting because they had lost to Cortland in the championship in the past, and there is a big Geneseo versus Cortland rivalry in both men’s and women’s lacrosse.
After that loss, the Knights worried that their season had come to an end and the team was done playing together. It wasn’t until the NCAA bracket was announced that they learned their 15-3 record had secured them a spot in what Seeley described as “the big leagues of a national competition.”
Brown said learning that the team got the bid into the NCAA tournament has probably been the highlight of her college career so far.
“Rumors had been floating that we may get the bid into the tournament, but nobody was certain we would,” Brown said. “I was in class when we got the bid, and after class, I walked back to my dorm room and found my whole lacrosse class in our common room playing music and cheering. It was just a really exciting moment knowing that we were getting the opportunity to play together again. We were so lucky to be in each other’s company another weekend and to make some more memories before the semester ended.”
The team spent four days together in Middlebury, Vermont competing in the tournament.
According to Seeley, Middlebury College, which has impressive athletic facilities, consistently wins the NCAA Division III Women’s Lacrosse Championship.
The Knights defeated Saint Joseph’s College of Maine 19-2 in the first round and then lost to Middlebury 6-22 in round two.
Seeley remarked that in the second-round game, Geneseo started out strong and scored the first goal, making them the only team to have been winning against Middlebury at any point that entire season. Shortly after the second half, however, the Knights lost their discipline and control and were defeated, according to Seeley.
“The weather was great, and the team got to spend some more time together before the end of the year,” said Brown. “Overall, it was just a really fun experience, especially getting to play some really competitive teams and do it on a team filled with your best friends.”
Last year, Seeley, Brown, and Henderson all achieved stand-out recognition from SUNYAC. Seeley was awarded 1st Team All SUNYAC Defensive Player of the Year, and Brown and Henderson both earned 2nd Team All-SUNYAC.
“It was a huge accomplishment for us and for our Cazenovia supporters at home,” said Seeley.
Next season, the Knights will be joined by yet another Cazenovia athlete, Katie Rajkowski, who is set to graduate this spring.
Edmunds said she is looking forward to coaching another Caz athlete next year, noting that in her experience, they have all been hardworking, athletic, and great teammates,
“People always joke that there was ‘something in the Caz water’ that makes us all such incredible athletes and players,” said Seeley. “I am proud to say that the Cazenovia legacy will be continued now that Katie Rajkowski is coming to play for Geneseo next year. They can’t get rid of us Caz girls yet.”