Tristin Konen and lacrosse were a match destined for great things. The senior midfielder for the Montclair State University women’s lacrosse team is having a historic season. Her work ethic and love for the sport continues to allow her to improve her skill.
Konen is currently leading the team this season with 22 goals in the first eight games. She is also ranked top 10 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) with 2.75 goals per game.
She has been playing well on both sides as she also is leading the team in caused turnovers with 14 and is top 10 in the conference in that category as well. This rise to the top has been well-earned as she has conquered many obstacles along the way.
A couple weeks ago, assistant coach Sarah Burkarth talked about how skillful the the team and Konen are. Burkarth, who was the head coach at Wilkes University, is in her first season at Montclair State.
“I think Konen, [Rhiannon] Brown and a few others have the fastest shots I’ve seen,” Burkarth said. “They are super talented and all of them have a great IQ for the sport.”
Konen started the sport at an early age as she grew up in a lacrosse household where everyone was an athlete. Her dad and two brothers played in college and her sister currently plays in high school, while her mom played field hockey in college — the other sport Konen played in high school.
Choosing which sport to play in college was a fairly easy decision for the multi-sport athlete as she said she always wanted to play lacrosse.
Her brothers are the reason for that. Growing up they all played together, trying to improve one another. This came along with some humorous drills such as when her brothers taped her hands to a lacrosse stick so she could get better at catching the ball.
“My brothers were locked in on lacrosse right away and I wanted to be like them,” Konen said. “I really looked up to them when I was younger so I wanted to follow in their footsteps.”
She arrived at Bridgewater-Raritan High School where she helped lead her team to a state championship and a Tournament of Champions title — the same titles her brothers won.
After high school, Konen made an immediate impact at the college level for Albright College, where she was top five on the team in goals. A year later though, wanting to go to a bigger school while also being closer to home, Konen found herself at Montclair State.
However, her impact on the Red Hawks had to wait. In 2019, Konen found out she had a thyroid disease called Hashimoto’s disease. She missed the season while in recovery that year.
“It was, like, months that it went on and I just didn’t feel like myself,” Konen said. “I couldn’t run or do anything so that whole year was a pretty big struggle.”
After finding medication to get her thyroid under control, she wasted no time getting back onto the field. However, that is when the coronavirus (COVID-19) hit, which was a major struggle for someone with an autoimmune disease. Then, the 2020 season was eventually canceled, but still, she practiced and worked on doing what she could to be at the top of her game.
After a couple of years of struggling to get onto the field, all her hard work in the offseason would soon pay off in the 2021 season. She helped lead her team to their first win over The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in program history. She also captured a First-Team All-NJAC honor, leading her team with 32 goals on the season and a conference finals appearance.
“Last year when we were in the playoffs and won the semifinals of the conference, it was such an exciting game,” Konen said. “Knowing we were getting a chance to go to the championship game was a super exciting feeling and I hope we get back to that this year.”
Senior midfielder Amber Gonzalez spoke to Konen’s character as a player.
“Everyone is going through something in the games, but when I see the way Tristin plays through anything and her emotions on the field, it’s just great have out there and to play alongside her,” Gonzalez said.
Her teammates will be the first to say that Konen’s success in 2021 had only made her want to get better. According to Gonzalez, Konen’s perseverance really resonated with the locker room.
“I see the energy she brings in games and the passion she has, it really helps push the team,” Gonzalez said. “She always is the first one into practice and the last one out. It’s something that the rest of the team really feeds off of.”
Konen believes it goes both ways with her and her teammates.
“They all push me,” Konen said. “I love getting to play and practice with all of them.”
This season, Konen is hoping to help lead her team back to the conference finals where the Red Hawks were just a year ago. She has a clear mindset this season as one of the leaders on this team.
“I just want to lead by example,” Konen said. “ I want to be able to show the younger players what it takes to win and how to work hard.”