Ally Turner remembers when the realization set in. When it occurred to the Messalonskee junior, then a sophomore, that lacrosse had turned from a hobby into a passion — and one she didn’t want only two more years to savor.

“Lacrosse was kind of a new sport to me and I just fell in love with it in high school,” she said. “And I decided the summer after my sophomore year that I wanted to play lacrosse in college.”

She’ll have the chance, and at the highest level. Turner verbally committed during the winter season to play at Wagner College, joining the Staten Island school on an athletic scholarship to compete at the Division I level.

For Turner, it’s a perfect blend. She’ll be able to play the sport she loves, and pursue the field — nursing — about which she’s just as passionate.

“It’s really cool to be able to say I’m going to play lacrosse at a D-I college, but to me it was more important to find where I wanted to go to school,” Turner said. “I want to be a nurse, and I found a school where I can play D-I lacrosse and and also do a nursing program. … It’s just really exciting, because now I know what I’m going to do and where I’m going to be. I can’t wait to play there.”

Wagner coach Katie Rowan said she couldn’t comment, replying that coaches are prohibited by NCAA rules from discussing recruits until after they’ve signed their National Letters of Intent, which takes place in November. According to Turner, tuition will be covered by the scholarship, while she’ll be responsible for books and for her room and board.

This was hardly a long time coming, or the fulfillment of a childhood dream. Turner played basketball and soccer first, and it wasn’t until middle school that she even started playing lacrosse — and even then, it was just a way to stay off the softball field.

“It was more just something to do,” she said.

That changed in high school, when the games became more serious and Turner’s talents started to stand out. Messalonskee went to the state final in 2015, and right away, Turner was hooked.

“I just loved playing,” she said. “I didn’t know that I was good at lacrosse coming into my freshman year. I just picked it up really easily. … If you’re good at something, you tend to like it.”

That interest blossomed further after Turner played for the Maineiax club team that summer, and after her sophomore year — during which Messalonskee won the Class A title — she began traveling to the showcases and tournaments where she could make her new dream a reality.

Some schools leapt to the front of the pack — UMass Lowell was a promising choice — but Turner never strayed from her core belief: Her decision, whichever school it included, had to be about more than playing a sport.

“It’s really stressful. You’re making this decision and this is where you’re going with your life,” she said. “You have to do the ‘broken leg rule.’ If you were to break your leg and you couldn’t play lacrosse, do you still want to go to this school?”

Wagner prevailed through each test, with its lacrosse offer, academic program and location — a 15-mile drive from Manhattan — providing a tough combination to beat.

“We kind of went through them all to see where I’d fit in and which school was best for me,” she said. “Wagner was where my heart was at.”

She still has two seasons with Messalonskee left, however, and Turner’s skill set toward the sport is still growing. Her 5-foot-11 stature makes her tough to beat on draws, and her speed makes her dangerous in the midfield both as a scorer and distributor, which she demonstrated with two goals and three assists last year’s Class A final.

“She’s a threat all over the field,” said former Messalonskee coach Ashley Pullen, now an assistant at Greely. “She’s fiercely competitive. She’s the type of player that, if one shot doesn’t go in, you’d better believe the next shot she makes is going to be placed right in the corner and behind the goalie.”

On defense, Turner’s ability to read players and make plays on the ball from basketball translates onto the lacrosse field.

“Basketball players are usually some of my best defenders,” Pullen said. “Their knowledge of defensive principles and footwork, especially, taking charges, things like that. Ally was great at all of that.”

She’s far from a finished product, however, which Turner said might be her favorite element to the sport.

“It’s like an evolving sport,” she said. “There are always new stick skills and there are always new shots, and new ways to do things. I think I’m always learning because it’s such a new sport to me.”

There will be a jump to succeed at the faster, more intense college level, but Turner is confident she’ll get a chance.

“If you come in and are playing well, (Rowan) will play you,” she said. “You have to prove yourself to earn your playing time, which is cool because if you work hard and you improve, you’ll get time in the game.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

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Twitter: @dbonifantMTM