If Thomas College wins the North Atlantic Conference women’s lacrosse championship this spring, Miranda Tinsman will have been a big part of it.
Sounds simple. But look at the route Tinsman took to get to this point.
Three different schools. A year off from lacrosse while living in Florida. Another year off after a car accident left her with a broken neck. Now, she’s playing for one of her former teammates.
The Terriers were 2-0 in the NAC heading into Tuesday’s home game with UMaine-Farmington. Tinsman leads Thomas with 33 points, on 26 goals and seven assists in eight games.
“She’s just very stealthy with her moves,” Thomas coach Lauren Bickford said. “She really sells her dodges. She kind of has her little trademark dodge and quick run to the net with that sharp shot. Even though it’s very similar every time, it always sells the defense regardless.”
Tinsman, a Belgrade native and Messalonskee High School graduate, played lacrosse as a freshman at New England College, before moving to Florida and taking online classes at UMaine-Augusta. After that, she moved back to the area and enrolled at Thomas
“I knew moving to Florida wasn’t permanent, and I had a change in majors,” Tinsman said. “It was cheaper to live at home and Thomas is a good school.”
Tinsman played club field hockey for Thomas field hockey coach Andrea Thebarge, so that was a natural fit. Bickford heard Tinsman was planning on going to Thomas and reached out to her. When Tinsman was a freshman at NEC in 2010, Bickford was a senior. Tinsman started 13 of 17 games and scored 21 goals, while Bickford started all 16 games she played and had 10 goals, seven assists and a team-high eight yellow cards. While they weren’t close friends, they remembered each other.
“She was the leader for our team,” Tinsman said. “I was definitely shocked when she called me. I had no idea she was coaching here. It was cool, though.”
“She was definitely a strong attack, but she was so quiet, too.” Bickford said. “You could tell that she still had some growth in lacrosse at the time, and she really showed it when she got to Thomas. This team really kind of took her out of her shell as a lacrosse player and a leader.”
Before Tinsman could play lacrosse, though, she had to get healthy. She broke her neck in a car accident, and had to sit out the lacrosse season.
“When I was in the hospital, it was kind of funny, because I had no idea of the circumstances,” Tinsman said. “So I asked my doctor if I’d be able to play that season, not knowing that I’d still be in my neck brace. They pretty much knew that I didn’t have to have surgery or anything. It was more the concussion that I got that held me back. I got cleared for regular activity the day before preseason of field hockey.”
After taking two full years off from lacrosse, Tinsman was worried about the effect that would have on her game. But she contributed immediately, and scored 40 goals in 16 games. The year before Tinsman joined the Terriers, they were 5-7 overall and 2-4 in the conference. In her first season, they improved to 11-5 overall and 5-1 in the NAC.
“I was definitely very excited when I knew that she was coming to Thomas, because I knew what she could bring to the table,” Bickford said. “I knew that she could really contribute on this team. I knew that with her coming in, and with the team that we were going to have, starting with last year, that it’d be a strong season with her at the high attack role.”
Tinsman’s consistent play reflects her quiet personality. In her first eight games this season, she scored exactly four goals in half of them, and three and five in two others.
“She’s a leader by example, for sure,” Bickford said. “She’s kind of quiet at times, but she knows when to be vocal, and when she does speak, it’s well-heard by the entire team.”
After all this, Tinsman is less than a month away from the end of her collegiate athletic career. She has another year of eligibility in lacrosse available, but said she probably won’t go that route.
“Everyone says it would go by quick, and it definitely has,” Tinsman said. “I think I’ll always be involved in sports. I definitely, obviously, will miss competitive (playing), but I guess it won’t feel real until it actually happens.”
The Terriers will get a great test of their championship chances when they host Castleton on Saturday. Castleton has won the last two NAC titles and is also undefeated in conference play this spring. But Tinsman thinks all things considered — the Terriers didn’t even practice on their field until Monday — Thomas is playing quite well.
“I’d love to win the NAC championship,” Tinsman said. “It’s our dream, and I think we have the ability and the focus to do it. That would be good.”