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All-North NAC MVP: Francis blazes way for Massena success

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MASSENA — She’s tallied more points than any player, boy or girl, in the history of Massena Central lacrosse.

She was named 2013 Massena Athlete of the Year. She finished a four-year career on the Raiders team with an astounding 272 goals, 116 assists and 388 points. She led Massena to the first victory ever by a Section 10 girls lacrosse team in a state tournament. Finally, she secured a scholarship to play lacrosse at one of the top NCAA Division I programs in the country.

So who else but Erin Francis to be named Times All-North Northern Athletic Conference MVP?

“Scoring my 200th goal and everything else that’s happened this year, and the fact the team made history by being the first to make the Elite Eight has been really special,” said Francis who tallied three goals and two assists in Massena’s 12-11 state victory over Maine-Endwell in late May.

Massena coach Jeffrey Slack was once an All Star player on the Massena boys lacrosse team and marvels at the play of his senior attack.

“Erin has unbelievable hands and vision on the field,” Slack said. “When I’m coaching, I don’t always see everything that happens on the field. Then I watch Erin on film and say ‘what a great look, what a great find’. As a fan of lacrosse. I really appreciate her play.”

Syracuse University and its coach Gary Gait also appreciate Francis and will welcome the Akwesasne native into the Orange fold next season. Gait was a superstar along with his brother Paul for the Syracuse men’s team in the late 1980’s and has led the Orange women to the NCAA Final Four in four of the last five seasons. “Coach (Gait) has told me that if I put in the work, it will pay off,” Francis said. “I don’t expect to start right away, but I’ll work hard and do my best. It’s very exciting to be going to a program like that.”

“It’s great that Erin will be the first Division I player from Massena. Most kids in New York State who play lacrosse grow up wanting to play for Syracuse. I wanted to play there,” Slack said. “Erin is amazing. She’s very unselfish. She always tries to get her teammates involved. And she’s put in the work in the off-season to become the player she’s become.”

Prior to enrolling at Syracuse, Francis will play this July for the Iroquois National Team, which will compete in the World Cup Tournament. The World Cup is held every four years and this year will be held in nearby Oshawa, Ontario.

Francis developed her skills by playing boys box lacrosse and never played girls lacrosse until her freshman year at Massena. The rules of the girls game call for far less physical play.

“It was a big adjustment. I didn’t know the (girls lacrosse) rules and everything was the exact opposite,” Francis said. “But box lacrosse really shaped how I play. It really helped me a lot.”

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