Junior Leah Rubino set the program record for goals scored in a single game on March 26. Photo by Grace Hensley.
SAM CARUS | SPORTS REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
Junior Leah Rubino has taken her game to new heights this season for the Butler women’s lacrosse team. Rubino currently leads the team with 35 points and has 32 goals on the season to go along with three assists. Earlier in the season, she set the program record for most goals in a single game with seven in a win over Eastern Michigan.
Rubino’s rise in play has not been a surprise to first-year head coach Maggie Zentgraf who admires Rubino’s work ethic.
“She is always one of the first people in sprints, and we use her as an example in drills,” Zentgraf said. “She loves training; she loves running; she loves all aspects of the game and what it takes to be a Division I athlete.”
As a multi-sport varsity athlete in high school, Rubino understands the level of dedication it takes to excel at a high level individually and as a member of a team.
Rubino has had individual success in each of her nearly three seasons at Butler, but is very excited at the prospect of her team continuing to grow and improve this year.
“We won our first Big East game [in program history], and I think we have so much talent on our team which I think motivated everyone,” Rubino said. “I think the anticipation of what we can do just pushes all of us.”
Rubino’s dominance on the field is not the only thing she has brought to the Bulldogs during her junior season — her leadership has blossomed as well. Younger players have looked up to Rubino as a role mode both on and off the field.
“[Rubino] was one of the first people repeating positive support on the sideline,” Zentgraf said.
Rubino’s leadership was a critical component that allowed Zentgraf to settle into the job back in August.
“I had a conversation with [Rubino] … where I just said ‘if you can hit game speed as many times in practice, that is kind of going to raise the level of everyone else around you,”’ Zentgraf said.
Rubino has committed to being a team player and always makes sure her accomplishments come after her team’s.
After her record-setting seven-goal game against Eastern Michigan, Rubino explained that her teammates were responsible for creating space for her to take her shots.
“The leaders on the team were able to clear space for me so that wasn’t really me; it was other people,” Rubino said.
As a result of her performance, Rubino won Big East Midfielder of the Week, but she made sure to reiterate that her award was a team award and pointed to the result of the weekend rather than her own accomplishment.
“We went 2-0 on that weekend which was our plan all along, and I think it is because our team is so connected together,” Rubino said.
Junior midfielder Ella Squibb has developed a close friendship with Rubino over the years, creating strong on-field chemistry.
“If I see [Rubino], I know she is just a consistent player,” Squibb said. I have faith in everyone on my team, but it is easier when you are so close with someone to have that connection, including on the draw.”
Squibb and Rubino have grown to the point on the field where they can play without even having to talk. Their friendship sparked in the offseason before their first year when Squibb saw Rubino running. Squibb decided to run with Rubino and from there, their friendship and on-field chemistry blossomed.
“It’s an automatic trust with someone because you’re such close friends,” Squibb said. “On the draw, I can look at Leah, and she will know what I am thinking.”
The duo has watched the program grow since Zentgraf took over in August and are excited about the future. They have also enjoyed how the coaching staff has stepped in and brought out the best in their players.
“They helped to encourage competition,” Rubino said. “Our team is such good friends and sometimes that played into being too nice at practice. This year, we will go to practice, and it’s much more intense and competitive.”
Zentgraf talks to the team frequently about getting 1% better every day. Squibb echoed this by explaining how the goal is to improve on a day-to-day basis and to be focused in each practice.
Rubino has become a focal point for Butler women’s lacrosse’s bright future. With this season already being full of new records and milestones, Rubino and the Bulldogs are fighting to make the rest of it even more historic.