Judd brings Terps leadership, fearlessness and a certain flair

Best year crowns career for senior from Australia

College Lacrosse

April 20, 2003|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Sonia Judd's fearlessness showed up long before she decided to travel halfway around the world to play lacrosse at Maryland.

Her mother, Rikki van Gyen, remembers 4-year-old Sonia tearing down the nearly sheer side of a hill during a family hike back home in Australia.

"[Her father] and I stood there with our mouths open. All we can remember is Sonia racing down the steep decline, her legs barely keeping up - just before colliding with a bench seat and having an almighty crash.

"Thankfully, she only sustained bruised and skinned knees and after being comforted, was off and running again."

Ever since, Judd, 22, has been feeding that adventurous streak - which she gets from her parents. Her mother, a professional stuntwoman who worked on The Matrix movie, and her father, James Judd, who raced motorcycles, hope to someday descend into the ocean in a shark cage.

Their only child has tried a lot of sports - from track and field to go-karts to surfing - but as a teenager, she discovered a passion for lacrosse. That led her to take the most daring move of her young life - leaving home in Darlington, South Australia, to come to the University of Maryland.

"Both my parents, they're pretty outgoing, adventuresome types. I've got a little bit of that in me to be able to come to the other side of the world and be able to play lacrosse at this level," said Judd, the latest of many Australians to play for the Terps.

Judd doesn't limit her penchant for taking calculated risks to adventure sports. She brought a bold athletic style to Maryland lacrosse.

"She's a bit of a firecracker," said Terps assistant coach Jen Adams, who played with Judd in the Brighton Lacrosse Club in Adelaide. "She brings her own flair to the field. She's unorthodox in a way. A lot of other people would have trouble imitating the way Sonia handles her stick, but it works amazingly for her."

As the No. 2 Terrapins head into today's Atlantic Coast Conference championship vs. No. 4 Virginia at 12:30 p.m. at Virginia's Klockner Stadium in Charlottesville, Judd is enjoying her best year as a Terrapin.

The versatile midfielder, who scored a career-high nine points against William & Mary two weeks ago, had four goals and an assist in Friday's 13-5 semifinal win over No. 14 North Carolina.

Second on the team with 57 points, Judd leads the Terps with 20 assists. She ranks second in the ACC in assists with 1.46 a game, fourth in points at 3.7 and fifth in goals at 2.36.

As one of only three seniors in the starting lineup, Judd came into the season determined to provide the Terps with a strong leader - something lacking in the 11-10 team that fell in the NCAA quarterfinals a year ago. That ended a string of seven national championships.

"During the fall, and especially before the winter season, I thought about what I was going to have to do to make a change, to try and fill that absence from the previous year," Judd said. "I wanted to be vocal. I wanted the younger players to know they have someone to depend on on and off the field, someone they feel comfortable talking to. I also wanted to focus on performing as a leader on the field. I went crazy thinking about it."

In the Terps' first test, against then-No. 10 North Carolina, she had eight points, including five goals. A week later, she assisted on the tying goal and the game-winner in an 8-7 overtime victory at then-No. 7 Syracuse.

Judd has helped turn the Terps into a [kdu: includes anticipated win over UNC friday: ]14-1 team that swept the ACC regular season and goes for its fifth title in the seven-year history of the ACC tournament.

"She's definitely the emotional leader on the team," said senior goalie Alexis Venechanos, a team captain with Judd and Julie Shank. "When we need someone to say something, she steps up and says something really emotional. People admire Sonia, because when she talks, she means it from her heart."

As she nears the end of her college career, Judd's heart is telling her to stay with lacrosse. A studio art major a year away from her degree, Judd hopes to be a student assistant coach next season and then maybe seek a coaching position on the West Coast.

The self-described "water babe" wants to spend more time surfing. She also harbors thoughts of following somewhat in her father's footsteps.

"I'd love to get into racing cars," said Judd. "I have a definite daredevil streak."

Her parents, who came over for the NCAA tournament two years ago and now get up at 3 or 4 a.m. to listen to games on the Internet, aren't surprised that their daughter's fascination with speed rivals her love for lacrosse.

Judd has always been interested in cars and has had a tendency to drive a little fast ever since she got her driver's license, said her mother.

When her father accompanied her on a club team tour of the states in 1996, they took a lot of pictures.

"Many of the photographs were of exotic, fast cars," said van Gyen. "I had expected a few more lacrosse pictures."

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