Author: Noel Hemphill
Matching her personal game-high scoring record with six goals in matches against Chapman University and Oberlin College, Tori Larson (junior) has established herself as a power player on the Occidental women’s lacrosse team. The two-time First Team All-SCIAC and Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) First Team All-West Region player is working to prove she is worth these titles.
Senior attacker Lauren Wemple included smarts, speed, agility and confidence as the skills that have earned Larson these distinctions.
“Tori leads on the field with her vision, skill and what we call ‘Lax IQ,’” Wemple said. “She knows so much about the game. Most importantly, Tori always keeps a cool head and seems to leave behind everything going on in the rest of her life once she steps on to the turf, which is a hard thing to do at a place like Occidental.”
The Denver native began playing lacrosse in seventh grade after watching her two older brothers, Austin and Chase, play. Taking to the sport easily, Larson earned varsity letters all four years of high school and brought her team to second place at State as a starter her senior season. With high school success behind her, Larson decided to skip Division I programs in favor of the varsity team starting at Occidental.
“I did not want to do DI, just because you have to play like it’s your job,” Larson said. “I wanted to play because I was interested. I had the old Occidental club coach stay at my house to scout in Colorado, and that’s how I found out about Occidental. We really clicked, and then I heard about the new program, and I was really excited.”
Larson visited Occidental and found everything she wanted, from nice people to small classes. Nearly three years later, Larson has found even more with a team that has brought her success.
“I wouldn’t be where I am right now without the team,” Larson said. “The coaching is amazing. It’s not just technical stuff, it’s very realistic. As a team, we are all bonding; we trust the process, and we trust the coaches.”
Nicknames on the team for her include “ESPN,” for shots so beautiful they should be reviewed in slow motion, and “Scori,” for her consistent ability to get the ball in the net.
Over her career with the Tigers, Larson has led her team in scoring and assists. In her first year, she netted 48 goals, recorded six assists and started in all but two of the games. Her second year, she upped her scoring total to 57 with two assists and became a team hero with an overtime game winning goal against Adrian College. This year, Larson and head coach Michele Uhlfelder are aiming for All-American honors and continued growth as a cohesive unit.
“Watching the team grow and develop has been really rewarding,” Larson said. “Nobody knew about us and now we are top 20 in Division III. Everything has improved, and this year, we are really working on perfecting our plays.”
Larson’s teammates applaud her in all aspects of the game. Fellow midfielder Haley Gandsey (senior) praised’s Larson’s style of play as a way to help the rest of the team improve.
“In my three years playing with Tori, I can proudly and respectfully say that her fluid and deceptive style of play prepares and challenges our defense to get better every day, as well as plays an integral and competitive role in our attacking end,” Gandsey said. “I am incredibly confident and trusting in her on and off the field and can’t wait to see where she goes in lacrosse and life.”
Larson has scored 35 total goals so far this season and is shooting at 59.5 percent in conference competition. Beyond the statistics, Larson is simply a competitor who takes one game at a time in hopes of once again leading her team further into the postseason.
“Once you get out on the field, everything else goes away. I don’t think about school work. It’s a stress reliever and an outlet. It’s nice to have something to do that’s not school,” Larson said.
The Tigers are currently 3-2 in the SCIAC and 5-7 in overall play. They will take on SCIAC rivals Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) on Saturday at 6:30 on Patterson Field.
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