For Emilia Lopez-Ona ’14, strong relationships come naturally with lacrosse and have propelled her to become closer to the sport and the figures in her life.
Lopez-Ona’s father played lacrosse at Franklin & Marshall College and shared his love for and knowledge of the sport with his daughter. “My dad was a huge factor in me continuing to play [lacrosse] and developing in it,” said Lopez-Ona. “He is probably my number one coach and he still coaches me today. Because he’s there, lacrosse has become a family affair.” Lopez-Ona’s brother Johnny Lopez-Ona ’17 plays for the school team, while her seventh grade sister Mariana plays for the Princeton Charter School team and PGLax, which Emilia helps coach.
Although Lopez-Ona has played with a number of club teams, she has always felt especially close to the lacrosse friends she has made in high school. “These girls are my best friends,” said Lopez-Ona about the PHS team. “Whether we’re in lacrosse season or out of lacrosse season we’re always around each other, and I think it contributes a lot to the success of the team.” Lopez-Ona met some of her high school teammates, like her Co-Captain Dana Smith ’14 and teammate Kristi DeMilt ’14, at a lacrosse camp and at a tournament, respectively, before she began playing high school lacrosse with them.
Of all the teams she has been a part of and teammates she has bonded with, Lopez-Ona remembers her time on the freshman year PHS team as having been a particularly impactful experience. “We started off the season with a lot of talent on the team, but we were losing games that we should have been winning,” said Lopez-Ona. “Then towards the end of the regular season, senior Emma Brunskill [’11] passed away. The team reacted in a really impressive way in terms of everyone bonding together. The whole season became bigger and meant bigger things than it meant at first … We came into counties with a different motivation that I’ve never seen on any other team that I’ve played for.” The girls went on to win the Mercer County Tournament title.
After officially visiting the University of Pennsylvania this fall, Lopez-Ona is looking forward to having the same bond with her new teammates. This fall marked the first time the members of the Class of 2018 UPenn girls lacrosse recruits all got to spend time with one another, knowing that they were bound for the same college. Lopez-Ona said she was excited about getting closer with such a “tight group of girls.” Not only a Division I commit, Lopez-Ona has been named a US Lacrosse All-American, US Lacrosse Academic All-American, and has scored over 250 goals for the Little Tigers.
Lopez-Ona remembers being stressed about lacrosse recruitment during the fall of her junior year. “It’s not as hard as it used to be because now … I’ve committed and I know where I’m going. The amount of lacrosse that I’m playing has kind of leveled off a little bit,” she said. “Last year … I was gone almost every weekend visiting colleges, and I used to have to miss days to go visit the colleges or days to make up the work that I missed. It was a mess.”
With her college plans all figured out, Lopez-Ona has been able to take time to appreciate lacrosse again. “For me, lacrosse is a social event,” she said. “Whether I’m with my family, playing with them, or playing with my team or my best friends, that’s not just what keeps everyone together now, but what brought everyone together in the first place.”