HILLSBOROUGH — Over the past four seasons, Erika Cavallo has become one of the best players in Hillsborough High School girls lacrosse history, simply by putting in the time and energy to get better. After just blending in as a freshman and scoring four goals in four games, Cavallo has turned into a force for the Raiders, working her way up from third-leading scorer on the team to the club’s go-to scorer and leader on the field as a senior.
She said that coming into the program four years ago and playing with so many quality players, including 2013 Courier News Player of the Year Kristina Dunphey, has helped her become a star.
“When I came in as a freshman, there were a lot of really good players that were leaders, and I knew going into these last couple of years that I would have to become a leader myself and I knew that having that role would help me progress as a player on the field,” Cavallo said. “I think I developed a lot over the years and I have a great coach, who’s very competitive, and she just encouraged me to get better.”
Head coach Beth Murrin, who’s seen Cavallo evolve during her career, said that as a freshman, she had a lot of raw athleticism and competitiveness, but she’s turned that into so much more in her final campaign.
“She loves the pace of it and she loves being in that competitive environment,” Murrin said. “She loves being able to make a difference on the field and I think she made the decision between her freshman and sophomore year to put a lot of time and energy into this sport. She’s done that every off-season and she brings her game back better every season.”
As a sophomore, Cavallo ranked third for the Raiders with 56 goals and 16 assists and last season, behind Dunphey, she totaled 73 goals and eight assists. With a couple of regular season games left and the postseason ahead of her, Cavallo has compiled 58 goals and 18 assists, putting her on pace to set a new career high in points. She now has 191 goals and 42 assists for her four-year career.
But scoring isn’t the only way Cavallo affects the way Hillsborough plays. Following a 13-9 loss to Bridgewater-Raritan Tuesday – a game in which Cavallo scored five goals and added an assist – she spoke to how she’s grown into a leader on the field.
“Today, for example, is a tough loss, but as a leader on the field, everyone looks toward you, like ‘how is she going to react?’ So if I react to something in a negative way, they’re going to get down too,” Cavallo said. “I just try to encourage everyone to stay positive and keep it up and I always tell them to forget about the past, you can’t change that play, but you can change what happens next.”
What’s next for Cavallo, following the postseason run with Hillsborough, is a college career at Towson University. She said that she’s thought about moving onto the next level, but that her performance this year is directly tied into the college ranks.
“Now that I’m a senior, I’ve seen some teammates that are in their last year and they’re thinking about just going to college, but me, I think about I’m going to play next year and everything I do now is going to affect what I do next year at Towson,” she said.