Caitlin Baril refused let a little swine flu slow her down.
The two-sport athlete at Framingham State, who simultaneously holds down two jobs, missed three weeks of school her freshman year due to the H1N1 virus, but she's back to 100 percent now and is leading the Rams' field hockey team in points (eight) and goals (four) through eight games.
Baril, a 2016 Apponequet graduate, originally planned on just playing lacrosse at Framingham State, but decided to go out for the field hockey team at the last minute.
"I like the structure it gives me," she said of playing two sports — while also working at Starbucks and Papa Razzi, an Italian restaurant. "Once I made my decision (to play field hockey), I reached out to the coach, who was also my assistant lacrosse coach, and decided I'd play because it would have been weird not to."
But she didn't quite realize she was wading into a program going through a tough transition. There was no full-time coach and there often weren't enough players to field a full squad, leaving them to play a man or two down.
"We had a coach who had been thrown into it and no one was recruited from my class," she said. "There were days we'd play two people down. It was a mess."
The Rams finished 2-16 a year ago, while Baril, who had four goals and 15 assists her senior year at Apponequet, scored five goals in 17 games (16 starts) to finish second on the team in goals behind Meghann Ackerman (six). Still, she had no doubts about coming back her sophomore year.
"I love the team," she said. "We're always studying together. We always make sure we're on top of our schoolwork. I feel another reason I came back is there's nowhere to go but up. At this point, I need to see us have a winning season."
That may not be this season, as FSU has started 2-6, but they've already equaled last year's win total, and Baril has scored two goals in both of her team's wins, including Wednesday's 2-1 victory over Bridgewater State.
"That was probably the best game we've played as a team," she said. "We used each other completely. We just played so well as a team."
After Riley scored her team's first goal in regulation, the game went to overtime, and just 18 seconds in she took a pass from Mycala Moody, and drove to the goal for the game winner.
"It was crazy," she said. "It was awesome. We trusted each other so much. It's the most we've ever played as a team."
But before Baril could get started on her sophomore field hockey season, she had to survive a bout with swine flu at the outset of her freshman lacrosse season.
Lacrosse had always been Baril's favorite sport, her father is the director of Lakers Lacrosse in Lakeville, and that's what she focused on when she picked Framingham State over Emerson and Emmanuel.
"I really liked the campus and I had to come out here a couple times for a lacrosse program and that's what really sold me," she said. "I really liked the team and the program we have here."
But before Baril, who is working toward a business management major with a minor in marketing, could join former Dartmouth standout Grace Gamache and former Fairhaven standout Shae Riley on the FSU lacrosse team, she had one more hurdle. It started just a couple weeks into preseason practices when she got back to her dorm feeling listless.
"I just assumed it was from working so hard in practice," she said, "but I have asthma as well and I couldn't breathe."
It got so bad that she went to the hospital and was diagnosed with H1N1, which took her out of school for three weeks.
"I was drained and tired," she said. "I was just exhausted no matter what I did. Plus, I had all the symptoms of a really bad cold."
She returned in time for the season opener against Revere, but had missed almost all of preseason. Early in the game, her number was called.
"I felt so sick, but I was so excited I forgot about it until after the game," she said. "I had lost a lot of muscle. I got stronger as the season went on."
She ended up scoring three goals and assisting on seven in 19 games (15 starts), while Gamache, who sat out two weeks of the season with mono, scored 48 goals with six assists, and Riley scored 21 goals with eight assists.
"It was awesome to play with Shae and Grace," Baril said. "They were people I knew and was familiar with how they play the game. It's funny, because in high school, both Shae and Grace were the ones to beat."
As a team, the Rams went 12-7 and reached the MASCAC semifinals, one of the best seasons in program history.
"Having the experience of lacrosse and knowing what it's like to be on a winning collegiate team, it helped me bring some of those values into this field hockey season," she said. "Now I know what it takes to get everyone excited. I feel like lacrosse really helped me be a better leader."