Sierra Slack breaks Oxy lacrosse record

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Sierra Slack (senior) prepares for a rainy practice in Jack Kemp Stadium at Occidental College in Los Angeles on Saturday, Mar. 3rd, 2018. Sam Pess/The Occidental

Sierra Slack (senior) broke the Occidental women’s lacrosse career points record during a 21–10 away victory against Chapman University Feb. 24. Slack surpassed Tori Larson (’14)’s record of 219 points by scoring seven goals and assisting in another.

With 6:20 remaining in the second half, Slack scored an unassisted goal, her sixth of the night, to take sole possession of the record. The goal stretched the Tigers’ lead to 18–10 as Occidental secured an impressive win on Chapman’s Wilson Field.

Slack — the recent Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) athlete of the week winner — reached the milestone in front of her father, Dennis Slack, who was able to travel from their home in New Jersey to see his daughter play for the first time since her first year at Occidental. He was the first person Slack thought to thank for helping her reach this point in her Occidental career. She said her father helped develop her game from an early age.

“When I started out, he would bring his glove to the field because he never played lacrosse or anything,” Sierra Slack said. “We’d just stand five yards apart, throw ten righty, throw ten lefty and go five yards back until I could not reach him anymore.”

Dennis Slack would go on to become a lacrosse coach, and this father-daughter drill became known locally as the Sierra 100. He said the journey from the early days to her record-breaking performance against Chapman was a difficult one.

“She has worked tremendously hard to reach where she is at,” Dennis Slack said.

Head coach Stephanie Mark, also from New Jersey, said Slack choosing Occidental was somewhat of a surprise in the first place.

“Sierra has been a trendsetter in that she played for a really strong club lacrosse program in New Jersey, and she fell in love with Oxy’s location and academics which was off the beaten path from what other players in her area were doing,” Mark said via email.

As a first year, Slack said she had high hopes for what she would achieve in her lacrosse career, even if the points record was not yet in her sights.

Since enrolling in Fall 2014, Slack has started all 58 games for the Tigers and racked up 167 goals and 61 assists. She has been named to the All-SCIAC team after each of her seasons at Occidental and received Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) All-West recognition on a number of occasions. Slack’s new points total currently stands at 228, but her seven-goal performance against Chapman indicates that tally could increase rapidly.

According to Slack, winning games as a team is the most important thing to her, despite her impressive statistics. Slack said she gets more enjoyment from the team goals the Tigers score rather than any of her numerous individual goals. Slack’s co-captain, Ciara Byrne (senior) explained what it’s like to have Slack as a teammate.

“She pushes me every day to be a better player and working alongside her the past four years has been incredible,” Byrne said via email.

While Slack has already achieved a lot at Occidental, she said there are still a number of goals she would like to accomplish in her final year. A SCIAC championship sits at the top of the list, one of the few accolades that has managed to evade her. Additionally, an NCAA tournament run would be particularly special for Slack, as it could see her return to the East Coast to play in front of her father one more time.

“My dad always says he will bring a whole bus of everyone from my town to that game,” Slack said.

While it remains to be seen just how far the team will go this year, what Slack has already achieved is amazing, according to her teammates, coach and father.

“Sierra has been a dominant player on our team and in the SCIAC for four years and her achieving her goal and breaking this record is a testament to her hard work, skill and devotion to the Oxy Women’s Lacrosse program,” Byrne said via email.

While he said that the record is nice, Dennis Slack said it is not the most important thing.

“The hard work,” Dennis Slack said. “That’s what I’m most proud of.”

The Tigers started the season 4–1 (2–1 in SCIAC play) and will face Whittier College away March 7.