Senior Spring: Katie Bourque’s scoring prowess leads women’s lacrosse to national contention
The women’s lacrosse team’s 18-5 victory against the University of New Hampshire on March 7 may have been team captain Katie Bourque ’20’s last game in a Big Green uniform, but it won’t be the last stop in her storied career.
Though the season was cut agonizingly short, Bourque made it clear to the Ivy League and the rest of the country just how dominant she was. She was named to the All-American Third Team by Inside Lacrosse, twice named the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week and was named the U.S. Lacrosse National Player of the Week on March 2. After wins over No. 13 University of Massachusetts and No. 5 University of Florida, the Big Green was ranked ninth in the final Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association poll of the season, the highest finish for Dartmouth in the poll’s history.
During her sophomore year, Bourque was third on the Big Green with 40 points and 28 goals and was tied for second on the team with 12 assists. Following the season, she was named to the All-Ivy First Team.
Last season, she scored 38 goals total and recorded points in all but one game. In 11 games, she scored multiple goals. She also helped lead the Big Green to its first Ivy League championship since 2011 and its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2013.
For Bourque, excellence on the lacrosse field is a family tradition. Her father played lacrosse at Dartmouth, and her younger brother intends to play at Boston University next year.
“I’ve always had a stick in my hand,” Bourque said. “Me and my siblings would always be playing in my backyard.”
Bourque and her siblings weren’t the only ones. According to Bourque, her hometown of Ridgewood, New Jersey was teeming with hopeful lacrosse players.
“[When I was] in middle school and elementary school, there were tons of players going on to play in college,” Bourque said. “The high school team really inspired me to practice and work hard so that I could one day be on the high school team and starting, and then also play in college.”
Bourque committed to Dartmouth during her sophomore year of high school. By that point, she was already turning heads by making her high school varsity team as a freshman. In order to get playing time, she was forced to play defense, a position previously unfamiliar to her. Despite her switch to defense, Bourque received second team all-county and All-North Jersey honors.
In high school, Bourque had already developed her team-first mentality.
“It’s important to be flexible,” Bourque said. “At Dartmouth, I played defense, attack and midfield. I think it’s important to know that no matter what you’re doing, you’re helping your teammates. It shouldn’t matter what position you’re playing.”
While Bourque’s technical skill is undeniable, her character and grit allowed her to stand out on the Division I level. She attributes her success on and off the field to her strong work ethic.
“I put 100 percent effort in everything that I do,” Bourque said. “I like to work hard, and I’m passionate about what I like, and I think that comes off in my academics and my athletics.”
Attacker Ellie Carson ’20 stressed how valuable Bourque’s work ethic is to the team.
“She just works harder than anybody on the field,” Carson said. “She’s always putting everything she has into her game, and it pays off in a massive way.”
The numbers speak for themselves. Bourque was selected to the Spring Academic All-Ivy team this season, and she led the Big Green in points with 27. Her success stems from her passionate love of the game.
“If you’re going to put countless hours in anything, you have to really love it.” Bourque said. “If you’re going to go out and play in a blizzard or run sprints while you're home on winter break, you have to love the sport to put in that much work.”
Bourque’s scoring was often clutch, as she scored a trio of game-winning goals last season and added three more game winners in the first five games of the season this year.
“For me, goals are just the outcome of working hard and working together,” Bourque said. “If I score a couple goals or if my teammate does, I’m just happy if we’re playing well and winning.”
Despite her consistent scoring ability, Bourque described her playing style as gritty.
“When I make plays, they aren’t always the prettiest,” she said. “I work hard to get the ground balls, cause turnovers and do the little things because they help to motivate my teammates.”
Carson said that Bourque’s leadership and strength under pressure always inspires their teammates to perform to the best of their ability. Bourque displayed her commitment to her team in the Big Green’s 12-11 win over Brown University in March. In overtime, Bourque, already with five goals in the game, fired one more into the net to give Dartmouth a win over the Bears.
“She got up on one of the hashes that she’s really good at, and she put it away for the team,” Carson said. “It just shows, when the pressure’s on, she’s still performing to her highest level and putting the team first.”
Defender Emma Lesko ’21 recognized Bourque’s natural leadership from day one, testifying to the huge impact she has on her teammates.
“She’s extremely relentless with all of her pursuits, either academics or athletics,” Lesko said. “She challenged everyone at practice and made sure everyone was getting better, which contributed to our success this season.”
The end of Bourque’s career with Dartmouth may have come sooner than expected, but in light of the NCAA’s decision to grant spring athletes an extra year of eligibility, Bourque intends to continue her lacrosse career elsewhere.
“[Bourque] has so much more to give,” Carson said. “I think she will bring her personality and her work ethic to whatever team she may end up at, and she will make them better because of it.”