WOMENS COLLEGE LACROSSE
How ferocious is Dartmouth’s Courtney Bennett’s defensive game?
“I’ll tell you, I’m glad she’s on our team, because I wouldn’t want her marking me up,” said Amy Patton, her coach, and no pushover herself. “She’s pretty tenacious.”
She’s one we’ve really been able to depend on.
— Dartmouth coach Amy Patton
Bennett (DHS Class of 2009) prompted one particularly apt observation of her every-game energetic, effective romps over lacrosse, and soccer fields alike, during her four years with the big blue and white.
“She’s like a pony,” some people would say.
From there, she’s grown into a warhorse — or maybe a whole stampede of them — for Dartmouth’s Big Green.
“I just feel like Court is kind of just getting it done all over the field,” Patton added. “She takes our draws, she leads us in draw controls. She’s just real scrappy.
“She’s one we’ve really been able to depend on.”
Ranked 15th in the nation, Dartmouth is 6-3 overall and 2-0 in the conference.
Bennett is sixth on the team in scoring with seven goals and three assists, putting the defender, on a point-per-game course.
She has 21 ground balls and 33 draw controls.
“She’s had a really phenomenal career for us,” said Patton. “It’s so fun to watch her develop into, I think, one of the best players in the country.”
Bennett followed along her big sister Eliza’s footpath to the Ivy’s New Hampshire home — Eliza also a standout for Patton there — while little sister Ellie follows in Courtney’s ferocious footsteps as junior defender at DHS.
Courtney’s footsteps, though, began with baby ones.
“Her freshman year she wasn’t someone who was playing every game,” said Patton. “And sophomore year, I felt like was a real turning point for her. She really developed a lot of confidence, was really able to contribute at both ends of the field.”
And the best compliment of all, from any coach under the sun, moon and stars: “She was someone who was very consistent for us,” Patton said.
What else do coaches love? Two-way players. And Patton’s got one in Bennett.
“She’s always been a great defender, but she got a little bit more involved on the attack last year, as a midfielder,” Patton said. “And this year, she has been playing both defense and midfield, so I’ve been kind of splitting time for her throughout the game. And she has played incredibly well.”
The girl is in demand.
“I think she’s one of the best defenders in the country,” Patton said. “If I could I would just keep her on defense. But we need her in the midfield.”
At defense, she can play it either way.
“She’s a great mark-up defender. But she’s also a great team defender,” Patton said. “She played real well with Kelsey Johnson who is our other big defender. The two of them really run our defense.
“They kind of switch roles throughout the game.”
And, Bennett knows how to have a ball — almost on demand.
“There’s been a lot of games where we’ve needed the ball back. And she ended up getting it back for us,” said Patton. “I think she could shutdown anyone. And that’s because of her competitive nature.
“I think she kind of thrives in that environment.”
With the ball, she’s glad to give it back too; returning it to the opponent’s end of the field; helping to deliver it into the net.
“Attack-wise, she is just one of our smarter attackers,” Patton said.
Being there rather than only showing up
“As far as leadership, she sets a standard,” said Patton. “I think it’s really hard for college athletes to come out to practice every day and not just show up; but actually really get better in that day.
“And I think that is a hard thing for college athletes to do day in and day out. And she has definitely done that this year.”
At the end of her career, come the close of the season, Bennett could find another calling. If she listens closely, she can hear it calling right now.
“And she’s just so smart — she’s almost like another coach on the field,” said her coach.