Dowdle reflects on unique journey toward playing college lacrosse

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Erin Dowdle (33) owns the sixth-most draw controls in program history. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

For most college athletes, continuing to play the sport they love after high school is an easy decision. But for Marquette women’s lacrosse senior defender Erin Dowdle, her path to becoming a Division I athlete wasn’t so clear-cut.

“When I was a junior and senior in high school, I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to play lacrosse in college, so I hadn’t really done much with recruiting process,” Dowdle said. “I started looking at schools I really wanted to go to that didn’t have lacrosse. Ultimately, I decided I wanted to try to play, and I knew I liked Marquette.”

During her first year at Marquette, Dowdle made the team as a walk-on. Head coach Meredith Black said Dowdle made a great impression during her tryout.

“We don’t take someone if we don’t think they can actually help us,” Black said. “Since then, (Dowdle) has gotten better in almost every single practice.”

The Northbrook, Illinois, native said lacrosse wasn’t very popular where she grew up. But when her older sister started playing in high school, Dowdle followed suit and first picked up the stick in the sixth grade.

Dowdle went on to find a lot of success as a Golden Eagle, and her run may not yet be over.

The NCAA Division I Council announced March 30 it was going to allow spring athletes an extra season of eligibility due to the coronavirus pandemic. Dowdle said she’s “definitely considering” taking advantage of this unique opportunity.

“There’s a lot of things that are still up in the air as far as the logistics go,” Dowdle said. “It’s just a lot to take in (right now), but we’ll see what happens.”

She added that said the COVID-19 crisis has not made much of an impact on her post-graduation plans.

“Before all of this, I didn’t really have any plans set,” Dowdle, who is majoring in public relations, said. “It makes the opportunity to come back next year even more intriguing because I don’t really have to cancel any of my plans for post-graduation.”

Looking back, Dowdle said she’s learned from every one of her teammates during her four years at MU, but two in particular served a major role in helping her grow.

“Laine Dolan and Kaitlyn Viviano have helped me the most,” Dowdle said. “I’ve always looked up to them. They’ve always been there on the hard days and the good days.”

Currently, Dowdle has 75 draw control wins, which ranks sixth-best in program history.

“It’s just amazing to me because I wasn’t on the draw circle until my junior year,” Dowdle said. “I was kind of just thrown into the circle one day. Having drawers like Grace Gabriel, Emily Cooper and Ellie Henry (on the team) … they are really what make me successful because they are so good at what they do.”

Black said she wanted to challenge Dowdle to help them on the draw.

“In practice, she was coming up with a lot of stuff,” Black said. “She had a good vision for it. She bought in and continues to get better and better.”

Dowdle has also improved her tendency to take more risks on the field.

“She’s a high-risk player,” Black said. “It really works for her. She creates a lot of interceptions and causes a lot of turnovers. She’s learned how to come back from (taking risks) when they don’t work.”

Outside of being an athlete, Dowdle has boasted success as a student. She’s been named to the BIG EAST All-Academic team the last three seasons.

On or off the field, Black said Dowdle’s personality is infectious.

“She’s just so fun-loving,” Black said. “She’s always smiling and she’s always happy. She’s goofy but in a good way. She’s someone people can rely on to cheer them up.”

Defeating then-No. 24 Georgetown at Valley Fields last season was one of Dowdle’s most memorable moments at Marquette. She finished with a team-high five draw control wins in the victory.

“We had never beat them in program history,” Dowdle said. “They’re a rival for us, and it was great because everyone was so excited about it. It was just a lot of fun.”

This article was written by Tyler Peters. He can be reached at tyler.peters@marquette.edu or on Twitter @_tylerpeters_