When she was in elementary school, the phone rang at Mia Rapolla’s house, then in a suburb of New Haven, Conn.
The conversation went something like this:
“Mrs. Rapolla? Um, Mia’s a little too rough for the girls. I think we’re going to have to put her in the boys’ league.”
That was basketball.
Some 10 years later, not much has changed. Even on the lacrosse field.
Perhaps the most rugged of every skilled lacrosse player in Maine this spring, Gorham’s gifted midfielder scored 88 goals through intense traffic, earning her the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram girls’ lacrosse MVP.
Double- and even triple-teamed in some games, Rapolla almost always found a way to power her way through and send a shot into the net.
She was also named the newspaper’s Athlete of the Year, for her combined prowess in basketball, cross country and lacrosse.
“I try to be rugged. I always hear the other coaches yell “(No.) 24, 24!” They always just yell my name when I’m going into the eight,” said Rapolla. “I just think ‘turn and explode.’
“When I’m going in and three people close in, I know two others are open. Then I might retreat. Or if I see a weakness in their triple, I try and go through it.”
Rapolla, who will play lacrosse at the University of Massachusetts next year, said she appreciated the struggle this spring.
“It’s good because I feel like I’m going to be a lot more prepared next year,” said Rapolla. “There, I won’t be the one triple-teamed.”
Rapolla finally was shut down in the Western Class A semifinals by a dogged defender from Kennebunk who stuck close to Rapolla for the duration of the game.
“I think we made some progress this year, but I think we let the pressure get to us,” said Rapolla. “I am definitely most proud of our season last year when we made it to Western (regional).
“We took a team that shouldn’t have made it that far and did. We went through a lot of tough games, beating Thornton Academy in double overtime to get in. It was just so exciting.
“Even after we lost (to Scarborough) we were crying but were so proud of one another.”
Rapolla was the focal point for every team that played Gorham, particularly that regional semifinal.
“We brought our hearts and we knew (Mia) was our main competition and had to take her out of the game,” Kennebunk defender Emily Kessel said after the game.
Rapolla said she is about a month into the summer workouts assigned by the UMass coaching staff and is loving every minute of it.
“I really like it. I feel like I’m getting stronger already,” she said.
Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at: