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Lily Belle Baker to play lacrosse for Univ. of Hartford

By Managing Editor, Lisa Capitelli | Nov 22, 2017
Photo by: Lisa Capitelli Stephen Decatur senior Lily Belle Baker signs her National Letter of Intent to play Division I lacrosse at University of Hartford, Nov. 8, at the Berlin high school. Pictured seated with Baker, is her dad, Brooks, and mom, Andrea. Standing is Decatur girls’ lacrosse Coach Sara Braniecki.

(Nov. 24, 2017) When Stephen Decatur High School senior Lily Belle Baker joins the University of Hartford lacrosse team next year, she anticipates playing a big role as a freshman.

“My coach offered me so many amazing opportunities,” she said. “My coach told me that I will be starting as a freshman and will be a huge impact player and will be taking the draw and doing so much – almost like a leadership role for the team because of my experience.”

This is the first year for women’s lacrosse at Hartford, so Baker will enter the program in its second season.

“So many first things are happening this year and then next year there will be even more. It’s just awesome,” said the 17-year-old, who has been playing lacrosse since the age of 4 or 5.

Baker got in contact through social media with many of the players currently on the team as well as girls in her recruiting class. When Baker visited the school and met all of the girls face-to-face for the first time, she said she already felt like she knew them.

“When I got there, they were all hugging me and laughing. We all had this connection,” Baker said. “It’s like we knew each other before. It’s a small group. We’re all really close and we know that’s how it’s going to be for the next [few years]. The girls my year are so sweet and the other girls there are amazing.”

During her visit to the Connecticut school she had the opportunity to watch the team scrimmage.

“It was one of first scrimmages ever on the field. It was exciting to see that,” she said. “When I went on the campus it’s so comfortable and not that big, but it’s not small though. It’s just the perfect size…I just liked the whole atmosphere.”

Baker verbally committed to the lacrosse program in February. She signed her National Letter of Intent to play for the Division I school on Nov. 8 in Decatur’s auditorium. She received an academic scholarship.

She would like to major in special education. Her future goal is to start a lacrosse program for autistic children and those on the spectrum.

Baker is a three-sport athlete at Decatur, participating in cross country in the fall, basketball in the winter and lacrosse in the spring.

This will be her second year playing lacrosse for Decatur. She attended Worcester Prep her freshman and sophomore year and competed for the school.

“I didn’t know much about her before tryouts [last year], but after just the first day all of the other coaches and myself were super excited,” Decatur Coach Sara Braniecki said. “Lily Belle’s talent stood out immediately. She was the perfect addition to our team.”

Baker earned First Team All-Bayside Conference as a junior. The midfielder is also a two-time Brine Lacrosse All-American.

“She is fast, has amazing stick work, is a disciplined defender and makes great choices on the offensive end of the field,” Braniecki said. “Lily Belle played a very large defensive role for us last year, due to the needs of the team. When it seemed that we had a team weakness in draw controls, Lily Belle became that answer to the problem. Her presence on the center circle by the end of the season was invaluable in helping us gain possession.”

Braniecki is looking forward to Baker returning to the field this spring and taking the draws again for Decatur.

“All of Lily Belle’s lacrosse skills are amazing, but her greatest attribute on the lacrosse field is her passion,” Braniecki said. “She strives to better herself and her teammates during every practice.  During every game, she gives every ounce of her energy to make things happen on the field.”

Baker is excited to finish her high school lacrosse career at Decatur.

“It’s a little sad I was only here this year and last year. We’re hoping to get further than we did last year,” Baker said. “I couldn’t have gotten to where I am without my parents and my family helping me. They [had] my back through everything with lacrosse that I’ve gone through and with school.”

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