Leah Edmondson’s freshman season at Northeastern started with the beep test, included an awful lot of road games, and ended with probably her best performance of the season.

Edmondson, a Burnham native who graduated from Nokomis Regional High School earlier this year, played in 16 of 21 games for Northeastern’s field hockey team after scoring 33 goals last fall for Nokomis. That was one of many adjustments she’s had to undergo during the past few months.

After working out over the summer, Edmondson was prepared for the team’s beep test on the second day of practice. It’s a little over 11 minutes of running to a series of beeps, and if you don’t score at least an 11.1, you can’t play in games.

“We were all stressing out, because it’s obviously a really big deal,” said Edmondson, who ended up passing on her first try. “It’s literally the most nerve-wracking thing you’ll ever do. It’s not as much a physical test. It’s more, are you mentally prepared to run to 110 beeps back and forth?”

Northeastern’s field was under construction this season, so the Huskies played “home” games at Harvard, Boston College, and even the University of New Hampshire. Edmondson quickly realized that the nature of Division I athletics is that you have to fight even for a substitute’s role. The way Edmondson described it, she felt like if she let up, someone else wouldn’t be and would be able to take her spot.

“I always thought that middle school to high school was a big step,” she said. “But high school to college is a bigger step. Basically, I had to work on everything, because it’s a dog-eat-dog world.”

There’s also the time-balancing act every college freshman has to master. Many players in various sports have described being a Division I athlete as a full-time job, and Edmondson says that’s in line with her experience.

“If I was honest, I’d say I’m not a student-athlete anymore — I’m more of an athletic student,” she said. “I build my class schedule around (field hockey). I honestly love it. They make it feel like this is what you’re supposed to do, so it’s not stressful.”

Edmondson and Marissa Shaw were the go-to players at Nokomis, and Edmondson scored 75 goals in her high school career. She went from controlling the ball regularly and having plays designed for her, to not scoring a goal as a freshman at Northeastern.

“The first few games, I was really upset,” Edmondson said. “I felt like I wasn’t helping the team. I had really good off-the-ball movement, the coaches were happy, but I was like, ‘I didn’t even touch the ball. What’s wrong with me?’ I learned that I have to do a lot of sacrificial runs to get the ball five plays later.”

Things got better and easier for Edmondson, and when the Huskies reached the NCAA tournament, Edmondson played major minutes and was Northeastern’s first player off the bench in the second half. Northeastern lost that game in double overtime, but were 12th in the country in the final national poll.

“I was especially impressed to see her play so well against the University of Connecticut in the NCAA tournament,” Northeastern coach Cheryl Murtagh said. “I knew she was a good athlete. I knew she was a good field hockey player. But she really showed us what she can do that day.

“She handled the ball really well. She gave us some good runs. She was very efficient, the times that she had the ball. She was just dangerous. It was nice to see.”

Edmondson is technically undecided as a major, but is leaning toward business management and will take classes toward that end this spring. She’d also like to build off that final game.

“I’d really like to start next season,” she said. “I know that it might not happen. I really want to improve the minutes that I play. If I’m an interchange player, I want to be an interchange player who makes an impact.”

“Based on what I know about Leah, she will do the work in the spring and the summer that she needs to do,” Murtagh said. “I definitely expect her to play a bigger role on the team.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

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