Maria Auth’s Breakout Season Puts Big Ten On Notice
Maria Auth will never be the tallest player on a lacrosse field, but Penn State’s 5-foot-2 attacker hasn’t let that stop her from becoming one of the Big Ten’s best.
Auth has enjoyed tremendous success as a sophomore, due in part to the lessons she learned during last year’s Final Four run. She placed an emphasis on her conditioning and mental preparedness this summer, and the results have been off the charts.
“Last year as a freshman, every time I touched the ball there was a little bit of fear. ‘Am I going to mess up? What’s going to happen?’ But now, this year, I step on the field very confident,” Auth said. “I know my abilities and what I can do. I know my strengths and weaknesses.”
Head coach Missy Doherty has also noticed the difference in Auth’s game from year one to year two in the program.
“She’s certainly willing to take a lot of risks and put herself out there,” Doherty said. “It’s been nice to see her really take a more premier role this year.”
Recognizable by her signature white Nike head tie and vicious spin moves, Auth tallied a career-high eight points Friday in Penn State’s 21-16 win over Northwestern. She now leads the team in that category with 65 heading into Sunday’s Big Ten championship versus her home-state Maryland Terrapins.
Not only is she an excellent scorer, but Auth knows exactly how to get her teammates involved in the offense. Her 15 assists currently rank third on the team behind Shelby Wells and Rachel Rosen.
The Street, MD, native was a two-sport star at North Harford High School, also lettering in soccer for the Hawks. She initially forged her skills in the lacrosse hotbed of Maryland long before then, though.
“Everyone grows up with a stick in their hands,” Auth said. “You meet your best friends through lacrosse. My whole childhood was wrapped around sports, lacrosse in particularly.”
Auth, a biobehavioral health major, helped spread the game by traveling to Jamaica with the Lacrosse Volunteer Corps prior to enrolling at Penn State, where she had a chance to play with the local children and teach them some new tricks.
Auth first showed the clutch gene on the college level during last year’s postseason, notching 11 of her 30 points as a freshman in NCAA tournament action, including a huge five-point outing in the win over Princeton.
The Nittany Lions eventually came up short against the Terrapins in the semifinals, losing 20-10 at Gillette Stadium, but the experience of being on that stage is undoubtedly paying dividends this spring.
With Penn State great Katie O’Donnell graduating, Auth and fellow attacker Madison Carter will likely assume her role as the faces of the program moving forward.
Junior midfielder and co-captain Kayla Brisolari loves the passion Auth displays each game. Whether it’s next season or as a senior in 2020, Auth has future captain written all over her.
“When she scores, she’s always hyped up, she’s always celebrating,” Brisolari said. “I think that really separates her — her passion for the game and how excited she gets for herself and for her teammates.”