ODU Sophomore Shines in Soccer and Lacrosse

April 09, 2010
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

April 9, 2010

By Rich Radford The Virginian-Pilot © April 9, 2010

NORFOLK -- When Lisa Bernardini received a text message during spring break a month ago, all she could do was grin.

"One of my friends was in Panama City and told me they were about to go out that night with the cast from 'Jersey Shore'," Bernardini said, referring to the reality show that's popular with the college set.

"They were in Florida living it up. What was I doing? Two-a-day practices with the lacrosse team."

That's not a complaint, just a reality. And Bernardini isn't about to question her decision to play two sports at Old Dominion.

A second-team All-Colonial Athletic Association defender on the soccer team this past fall, Bernardini is in the midst of lacrosse season with the Lady Monarchs. The sleek, 5-foot-7 sophomore leads ODU in scoring with 21 goals and 12 assists.

"We were playing Louisville the other day, and she gets the ball near midfield and just runs by one defender. Then another. And another," lacrosse teammate Hannah McBee said. "By the time she scored, she had four defenders trying to chase her down."

Bernardini is at ODU on a soccer scholarship and had to ask soccer coach Joe Pereira if she could play lacrosse. With his blessing, she crosses over in the spring. The urge to play more than one sport is in her blood.

Bernardini's mother, Nancy, was a three-sport standout at Ursinus College, where she played basketball, field hockey and lacrosse. She was good enough in field hockey to be selected to the U.S. National team in the 1970s.

These days, Bernardini's mother coaches lacrosse at George School in Newtown, Pa. For Lisa, carrying a lacrosse stick became second nature.

"I used to walk up and down the sidelines watching her coach," said Bernardini, a dean's list student at ODU. "And I was always bugging the players to throw with me from about the time I was 10."

ODU lacrosse coach Sue Stahl had coached Bernardini's mother at Ursinus, but knew Bernardini's No. 1 sport coming out of high school was soccer. Stahl didn't have a role in Bernardini's recruitment to ODU, but was pleasantly surprised when Pereira's soccer find approached her about playing lacrosse.

Pereira's "only request was that if Lisa ended up sitting on the bench and not doing anything with the lacrosse team, he'd prefer she work out with the soccer team in off-season conditioning," Stahl said.

It was evident early that wouldn't be the case.

Bernardini said the split between the two sports keeps her fresh in both.

"I'm a defender in soccer and I'm on the attack in lacrosse," she said. "That's two entirely different approaches. So I get to flick the switch between seasons."

Bernardini's cross-over also has narrowed the relationship gap between the two sports' rosters.

"Lacrosse players now go and watch soccer games in the fall, and soccer players come over and watch the lacrosse games in the spring," McBee said. "It used to be there would be a house with all soccer players living together and another with exclusively lacrosse players. Now we have soccer players rooming with lacrosse players. Because of Lisa, the two teams are a lot closer."