Stanford University senior Dillon Schoen still remembers the first time she visited the prestigious university. The former Darien High School lacrosse player was on a recruiting trip when she fell in love with Stanford, despite the fact that its lacrosse program was not as well known as the programs at other schools she had visited.
“West Coast lacrosse was not as established when I was in high school and was not as big as it is now,” she said. “But I came to the campus as a sophomore and fell in love. No one from DHS had gone to Stanford for lacrosse. I wanted to do something different and pave my own path.”
Schoen is now in her final season, and her decision has paid off. The mechanical engineering student is graduating as a two-time team captain who has played in every game since her freshman year, earning not only team records but All-Academic honors as well.
Her success does not surprise Stanford head coach Amy Bokker, who recruited Schoen on the strong recommendation of Lisa Lindley, Schoen’s high school coach.
“As I talked to Lisa, she was like, ‘Amy, Dillon is the real deal. She has all the attributes. She’s a leader, she leads by example, a great role model for her peers on the field, she never takes a play off. She’s that kid that’s always working and striving to get better,’” Bokker recalled. “And she’s done that for us.”
Stanford is rolling toward the postseason with a 12-4 record and, at 7-2, it ranks second in the Pac-12 with one game remaining on the schedule. The conference tournament will be held April 27-29 in Boulder, Colo.
Schoen, who graduated from DHS in 2014 as an All-American, plays midfielder, where she has distinguished herself as a player who excels at what Bokker calls the “gritty work.”
“Getting ground balls, causing turnovers, running people down — things you don’t necessarily get a stat for, she takes a lot of pride in that, and I think just generally leading our midfield unit. She has a lot of passion on the field, and that comes through in how she plays and really transfers to our team,” Bokker said.
Schoen’s senior season gained even more significance when her father, Jon Schoen, died in September after a long battle against cancer. Jon Schoen played football at Boston College; in his honor, Dillon is wearing his college number 85 for the season.
“Obviously, the loss of her dad brought a whole new emotional level to her play,” Bokker said. “Jon was a huge inspiration for her and for our team. For her to honor him by wearing his number, I was worried about her, but she has taken it with so much pride and so much humility. I really have been proud to watch her do that, the maturity and the perspective she keeps.”
Beyond the lacrosse field, Schoen has excelled in the classroom, where she is majoring in product design. As part of her major, she traveled last summer with a group of engineering students to Uganda, where she was tasked with creating a health insurance program for nonprofit health clinics in rural areas.
After graduation, Schoen — who also completed an internship at Morgan Stanley last summer — plans to pursue a master’s degree in management science at Stanford as a way to add more business experience to her engineering degree.
And she has not ruled out playing more lacrosse post-college. She has been contacted by a women’s professional league about participating in this summer’s draft.
“I think it would be an awesome opportunity,” Schoen said. “I’m always up for any chance to grow the game of lacrosse and continue to play and be competitive, because I’m never going to lose that, even though I won’t be playing collegiate sports anymore.”