Dunham Putting Up Eye-popping Numbers for Lowell High School
LOWELL — Kaleigh Dunham was in third grade when she asked her dad if she could try playing lacrosse.
She was a little unsure about the idea, but her two older stepbrothers had just started playing and the sport piqued Dunham’s interest. She appreciated the fast-pace flow of the game and the idea of being a part of a team.
Dunham joined the Lowell youth lacrosse program as a third-grader. By the time she was in the sixth grade, she had elevated to club lax with a talent that became more and more evident as each day passed by.
“It all got serious from then on,” said Dunham.
The hard work and the time invested has certainly been worthwhile for Dunham. Now a senior at Lowell High School, she is in the midst of capping off arguably the greatest career in the girls lacrosse program history.
After a four-goal, one-assist outing during a 13-2 victory over Greater Lowell, Dunham has 88 goals and 26 assists this season, and career totals of 279 goals and 80 assists.
There are no official records kept for the program, but Dunham has been told numerous times that if she isn’t the all-time leading scorer, she definitely ranks in the top three.
The Red Raiders own a record of 15-3, the best mark in program history, and they defeated Andover this spring for the first time ever. Dunham has played a major role in those accomplishments.
“There are times when something happens in the game and she gets that look in her eye and has that fire and she drives to the net and just slams it into the net,” said Lowell fifth-year head coach Kerri Bomil. “Then there are times when you see she has these awesome stick skills and her game just looks so pretty. She can challenge any player on the field and get into that critical scoring area and put it in the net, no matter where she is.”
Dunham is a four-year varsity player. She’ll continue her career at Marymount University in Arlington, Va., where she plans to study nursing.
She’s an excellent student and a member of the National Honor Society.
As a year-round lax player, Dunham’s growth on the field has been perpetual. She credited Stephanie Barr, who was a senior when Dunham was a freshman at LHS and is now playing at Southern New Hampshire University, as being very helpful in getting Dunham acclimated to varsity lacrosse and keeping her involved in games. That mentorship helped shape who Dunham wants to be as a teammate now.
“Taking all the hints from her -- we would always work together during games -- taught me a lot about how to play at that next level,” Dunham said.
“Learning from her and the other seniors, and how they treated me, made me want to make the freshmen now feel the same way I did. I want them to feel welcome and work right in with us, instead of just watching from the outside.”
Bomil vouched for that sentiment from Dunham.
“It’s kind of funny watching these kids come up for four years,” Bomil said. “She was this quiet 14-year-old kid and now she’s turned into this young lady who sets a great example for her teammates. She pushes them. She tries to make her teammates look good, not just herself.
“Definitely a true leader.”
Dunham’s versatility has been extremely valuable for the Red Raiders. She has bounced back and forth between midfield and attack in years past, but her fitness and skill set was often needed in the midfield.
This season, Lowell has by far its deepest team in the last four years and that’s allowed Dunham to play attack and produce goals at a high rate.
Sophomore midfielder Abigail Mitchell and freshman center Casey Mitchell have been huge for Lowell. Senior captains Hannah Erickson (defense), Olyvia Cassella (defense) and Hannah McAnespie (midfield) are also main contributors.
“This is the most well-rounded team we’ve ever had,” Bomil said.
Dunham said the commitment for success was on display early.
“Since our indoor league, everyone knew that we had the opportunity to be a really good team and go really far this year,” Dunham said.
“Having that mindset from January, it all just transitioned to tryouts and our first game. This year we have a lot of club players, which we haven’t had in the past.
“We went from having two club players my freshman year to now having close to half the team playing on a club team, so it’s been really helpful having more players with more experience and high skill level.”
Lowell qualified for the state tournament in each of the three previous seasons but lost in the Division 1 North first round each time.
Led by Dunham, the Red Raiders are serious about a longer tourney run in the coming weeks.
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