It’s rare for a freshman to step into an NCAA Division 1 program and earn playing time in any sport. It’s even harder to secure a starting position.
But Kevin Groeninger, a St. Margaret’s boys lacrosse alumnus and California’s all-time points leader, has managed to do both in his first year at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island.
“It’s been pretty hard,” Groeninger said. “During the fall, it’s a lot of competition, fighting for guys of all different class levels, going against 21-, 22-year-olds at practice. It’s a big grind.”
Groeninger has secured a starting spot at midfield and in extra man scenarios. Much like his high school career, Greoeninger he is just as lethal whether he’s finishing or finding the open man. He finished his high school career with a near 50/50 points-to-assists ratio (146g, 151a). In six games with the Bulldogs this season, it’s been more of the same, he’s scored six goals and added five assists. In total, he has 14 shots on goal.
“It’s been really rewarding for all the work I put in over those years,” Groeninger said.
He played four years of varsity lacrosse at St. Margaret’s and was a team captain in two of those seasons. He also helped the Tartans to LA/OC title in 2019.
Groeninger, who is majoring in finance at Bryant, credits the hard work done in prep lacrosse for getting him to the college level and recommends that those who want to play Division 1 take their high school time seriously.
“It’s really hard to compete at the Division 1 level. Its not a joke,” Groeninger said. “If you really want to play, you’ve got to put in the extra time. Division 1 all is almost a full-time job. You’ve really got to work on the fundamentals, stick skills and being able to be a part of team rather than being an individual.”
When he began playing at Bryant, which is currently 3-3 overall, he had to adjust to the speed of the game and the skill of the goalkeepers. He had to hone in on the fundamentals and shoot harder to have the same success he did at the prep level.
“(I’m) making sure stepping away when I’m passing the ball, being within the team offense as best as I can and really fulfilling my role,” Groeninger said.
Groeninger is one of eight players from California on the Bulldogs’ roster. But all players on the 50-man team have the goal of a playoff run that includes a trip to the Northeastern Conference tournament and extends beyond.
“Win the NEC tournament, that’s our goal going into May,” Groeninger said, “and take it from there and try to make an NCAA tournament run.”