Shortly before their season opener, Irondequoit assistant coach Sarah DePeters delivered a message to Lisa Rogers. A former Irondequoit player herself, DePeters wanted Rogers to know what she and coach Mike Smock thought of the senior midfielder.
"We think you're the best player in Section V," DePeters said, "and now you have to go out and prove it."
Rogers that, loud and clear. Even though the Eagles came up short for the second straight year in the Class B championship game, the hard-working Rogers was the choice by Section V coaches as the All-Greater Rochester Player of the Year. Wayne Smith is the Coach of the Year after guiding Penfield to the Section V Class A title after losing in the final the past three years.
A fifth-year player who also was a standout in soccer, which used to be her favorite sport, Rogers will suit up next spring for NCAA runner-up Syracuse University.
And that's a great place for the 18-year-old because just as she did at Irondequoit, she's following in the cleat steps of her older sister and mentor, Lindsay, who played at SU. Lindsay, now 24 and just back from a year-long stay in London coaching and promoting lacrosse, says her sister is one of the "most coachable" kids with whom she has worked.
"She's willing to learn and she's not afraid to try different things," said Lindsay, one of Lisa's first youth coaches. "I think she knows when she needs to (make a play), but I think she's a really good team player, as well. She finds that balance."
That's not easy, just ask LeBron James.
But Rogers has no ego. The Monroe County Division II Player of the Year, who also was one of Section V's All-American picks, played a big role in "nurturing," some of Irondequoit's younger players, Smock said, much the same way Lindsay did her.
"We're really close. She was always there to show me the way and push me to do better every time. She was both a sister and true role model," said Lisa, a 92-average student who wants to major in biology and pursue being an orthopedic surgeon to help injured athletes.
Lisa had 60 goals, 19 assists, 36 draw controls, 33 ground balls and caused 23 turnovers. She finished with 200-plus career goals, but flashy moves weren't her style.
"I think a lot of coaches know how hard she works and that not only is she a great offensive player but she also plays defense well and can shut out the other team's top players," Smock said.
"Even though she doesn't score 150 goals, they know the kid can play."
Rogers did have seven goals in a 12-11 overtime victory in the Section V semifinals against defending champion and perennial power, Brighton. "Not just as a team, but as a community, beating Brighton was a really big deal," Lisa said.
It didn't earn a trophy, but for a proud lacrosse community such as Irondequoit, it proved what the underdog Eagles (11-7) fought all season to show: They belonged among the best. Irondequoit won sectional titles in 1995-96 -- girls lacrosse's first two years in Section V -- but hasn't won since. Four of its losses this spring were by a goal and three were to Canandaigua, which won the title game, 15-9.
Although Rogers ended her career without a sectional title, she'll be remembered more for how she played.
"Always work your hardest no matter what," Rogers said when asked what advice she gives to youngsters. "The harder you work, the more it's going to pay off and the more fun you'll have."