Alysse Ruszkowski graduated from Hofstra University as one of the top defensive lacrosse players in program history. But before she was picking up ground balls and making a name for herself in the Blue & Gold, she was a skilled and talented threat on the field for the Red, Black & Gold.
Ruszkowski graduated as part of the first class from Sachem High School East in 2005. She was a two-sport athlete, playing soccer until her junior year, but stopped to focus on lacrosse, a sport for which she was being recruited by Stony Brook, Virginia Tech, Albany and Hofstra.
She was lucky to play with her sister Kailey, also a Sachem graduate, for two years in high school and college.
"It's nice to have someone on your team that always has your back," she said. "She was attack and I was a defender, so when she scored a goal it felt like I did. It was a great experience and we got closer because of it."
Prior to her freshman year with the Pride, she prepped herself to get used to the rigors of the Division I game. At first, she didn't think she'd grab much playing time, but after the coaching staff saw her defend in the fall, they tabbed her as a starter the following spring.
She was fortunate to learn from Becky Thorn, a Sachem grad and one of Hofstra's big guns when she first arrived.
"I looked up to Becky a lot," she said. "She taught me a lot about the sport, pushed me because she's an amazing, quick, dodging machine basically."
Hofstra won the Colonial Athletic Association title during Ruszkowski's sophomore season and the Pride earned a bid into the NCAA tournament where they lost to Johns Hopkins in the first round.
While she's upset her college playing days came to an end last year, she picked up right where she left off in lacrosse. This year, while working as a substitute teacher at Eastport South Manor (she wants to be a history teacher), she is also a varsity assistant girls lacrosse coach at Eastport South Manor High School.
Simply put… "I love the sport," she said.
The Ruszkowski File
-Ruszkowski led Hofstra in ground balls and caused turnovers in 2009 with 44 and 31, respectively.
-She closed her career with 119 ground balls and 89 caused turnovers. Her caused turnover total is the second-best total in school history and her ground ball total ranks sixth all-time.
-She earned second team All-Region honors as a senior and was an All-CAA selection three years in a row.