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Kettle Run’s vital Morgan: Rodgers has over 200 goals, will join Duke women’s lacrosse

Friday, May. 2 | By Jeff Malmgren
Kettle Run's Morgan Rodgers is arguably the most accomplished girls lacrosse player in Fauquier County history. --Photo by Doug Stroud
Morgan Rodgers realized at the end of eighth grade that she wanted to play college lacrosse.

So she crafted a list of about 25 ideal destinations.

Now, almost three years later, as a Kettle Run junior, Rodgers has a list nearly that long of NCAA Division I lacrosse teams interested in her. It reads like a U.S. atlas: Florida, Pennsylvania, Southern California, Colorado, Boston, Richmond, Princeton, Brown, Dartmouth, Yale, High Point, James Madison, George Mason, Loyola (Md.), Pennsylvania State, California-Davis, Villanova and Duke.

“It’s just like a relationship," Rodgers said of the recruiting process. "They want you to want them, and vice versa."

If that’s the case, Rodgers found "the one" in Duke.

The Blue Devils women's lacrosse team proposed a partial scholarship offer in late July 2013. Rodgers accepted it Aug. 9.

"I am still in shock. I cannot believe it,” she said of her future as D-I athlete. “I’ve wanted this for so long. … I’m ecstatic. I cannot wait.”

Rodgers chose Duke over those 17 other schools, which either offered athletic scholarship money or showed serious interest while recruiting her.

“Duke, it's everything that I wanted," she said. “It was really my dream school [academically] from Day One. It worked out perfectly. They have such an amazing lacrosse program.”

Rodgers, however, committed to Duke lacrosse only after her first love showed it didn't want her anymore. As a rising seventh grader, her Fauquier County Soccer Club travel team folded, leaving a void in her athletic identity.

“Travel soccer was pretty much my life,” she said. “That was my focus.”

When that relationship ended, Rodgers refocused on lacrosse rather than seek a new soccer team.

And her focus is fierce. That’s why she quickly developed into a Division I talent who, as of April 23, had 195 goals and 46 assists during less than three full seasons as Kettle Run's center midfielder. She is a two-time Brine National High School All-American and the 2013 VHSL AA Region II Player of the Year.

Rodgers developed a solid skill set by playing lacrosse casually since third grade, but upon joining that travel team in seventh grade she committed to achieving excellence.

“Her work ethic is definitely extraordinary,” Rodgers’ mother, Dona, said. “She’s just kind of wired that way. It’s a little more extreme than your average high school athlete.”

"A lot of times we have to remind her to take a break," Dona Rodgers said. "She goes 100 percent all the time.”

When Morgan Rodgers isn’t playing or practicing with Kettle Run, or with her Cardinal Girls Lacrosse Club team, she frequently works out at Next Level Fitness in Haymarket and works on lacrosse skills at her house in Warrenton.

She often returns home from team practice for a date with the side wall of her family's garage. With headphones funneling in the likes of Mac Miller and Frank Ocean, Rodgers peppers that wall with a ball for an hour to keep her stick skills sharper than those of most high school players she faces.

That’s been Rodgers’ routine since after her first varsity season as an eighth grader at Highland. She made the 2011 all-Delaney Athletic Conference first team after accumulating 23 goals and six assists.

So, between Highland and Kettle Run, Rodgers has 218 varsity goals as of April 23.

“It's amazing. That's a pretty significant mark,” Cougars coach Joanie DeGoosh said. “It's the hours she puts into it – her sheer determination. ... It's admirable.”

Scoring hasn’t been Rodgers’ primary focus, though. In fact, she downplays her incredible goal total.

“Anybody can really take the ball and score,” she said. “The game of lacrosse is all about possession.”

So Rodgers takes pride in winning draws and ground balls, and causing turnovers.

Her production in those categories impresses as much as her scoring prowess. The 5-foot-4 junior has 279 draw controls during her Kettle Run career as well as 166 ground balls and 77 caused turnovers.

“That feels just as good as a goal,” she said. “I get so much more satisfied if I’m covering a girl for 100 yards, get that check and send the ball back up the field.”

When Rodgers controls the ball directly off a draw, she’s an immediate threat to score. She's also nearly unstoppable in one-on-one situations with the dodging ability to beat most defenders and the precise shots to beat most goalies.

“It’s her timing,” DeGoosh said. “And she reads the field really well.”

College coaches noticed that early.

The Blue Devils began recruiting Rodgers during the summer following her freshman season while she played in Mid-Atlantic showcase tournaments.

"I know a lot of people have found this recruiting process stressful – a 14, 15-year-old deciding where you want to go to school six years from now," the 16-year-old said. "But it was definitely the [most fun] time of my life, and I met so many amazing people. ... I’ve been so lucky."

"She has a very mature personality," Dona Rodgers said. "She’s kind of an old soul."

Morgan Rodgers said she was the fifth player to commit to Duke from her 2015 recruiting class, and that group has already bonded. Members of that class, for example, converged in Durham during February for a Syracuse-Duke men’s basketball game.

“We’ve been able to all get to know each other,” said Rodgers, who is considering a major in industrial-organizational psychology or sports psychology.

The Blue Devils entered the ACC women's lacrosse tournament April 24 with a 9-6 record. They’ve previously won one ACC tournament championship and four ACC regular season championships under Kerstin Kimel, who has been Duke’s head coach since the program’s inception in 1996. The Blue Devils’ 19-season record is 239-116.

DeGoosh expect Rodgers to add to that history of success.

Her potential is “off the charts,” DeGoosh said. “We always laugh about, 'Can you imagine playing on a team of all Morgans?' Well, she's going to get that opportunity [at Duke] and that's going to make her even better.”

- - - - -

The Rodgers File

Family: Father Kurt operates S.W. Rodgers construction company. Mother is Dona. Brother, Austin, 19, is a Kettle Run graduate and freshman at East Carolina University. Twin sister Aberle, 16, is a junior at Kettle Run.

Favorite place: Beach house in Pawleys Island, S.C. "It’s a cute little town; pretty nice weather throughout the year. I spend basically my entire summer at the beach when I'm not at [lacrosse] tournaments."

Favorite athlete: Soccer player Alex Morgan. "I think she’s amazing. I’ve always been a fan of Team USA soccer, starting with the 1996 team. I love watching the World Cup each year, men's and women's.”

Favorite book: "Looking for Alaska" by John Green. "I found it an interesting story. … John Green has very good books. He’s one of my favorite authors.”

Favorite food: Steak and mashed potatoes. “A classic. … My dad is an amazing cook."

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