Towson women’s lacrosse graduate defender Rayna Deltuva recently talked with PressBox about the art of defending, her favorite memories with the Tigers so far and more. The 5-foot-8 Deltuva posted 27 ground balls, 15 caused turnovers, 1 goal and 1 assist in 2021 for a Tigers team that went 9-9 overall and appeared in the NCAA Tournament.

PressBox: How did you become interested in lacrosse?
Rayna Deltuva: I believe I started playing when I was 6 years old. It’s kind of funny, I started playing tee ball and my dad, [Scott], was my coach, but then I only really ever was interested in playing in dirt, so we decided to kind of switch it up, do a faster-paced game. We started when I was 6. From there, I continued playing up until now.

PB: Who was the biggest influence on your game?
RD: I would definitely say my dad. He has been my coach basically up until high school in soccer, basketball and lacrosse. In kind of all aspects of sports and life, I would say, he definitely was my biggest influence and role model. I was always being pushed to do the absolute best I can. He just really kind of sparked this really hard-working side of me. I’m always wanting to do well for my teammates and do well for my coaches and just also really push my teammates with me so we can be the best that we can be. I’m very, very grateful for him, absolutely.

PB: What are your memories from playing at Manchester Valley High?
RD: When I was there, we won three [straight MPSSAA 1A-2A] state championships. There was one season where we went 19-0. I still have and still wear our state ring all the time. Those three years were just so much fun because our school was kind of new. [It opened in 2009], and we weren’t really on the map. I’m from a really small town. It was just so much fun. I was playing with all of the girls that I kind of grew up with and had been really close with and my dad had even coached from when we were little up until high school. It was just so much fun. Sami Chenoweth was on my team. I played with Lizzie Colson, Beanie Colson. Tayler Warehime came my senior year. It was just so much fun. There was such big talent on our team, and everybody really came together and loved playing with each other. I would say those championships were the best part, for sure.

PB: Why did you choose to come to Towson?
RD: I’m very much a homebody, but I was still interested in having a really competitive collegiate experience, so once I started talking to Towson and kind of just realized how competitive the program is and that it was only a 45-minute drive back to my home and just thinking about how my parents and my family would still be able to come to the games, it [was] kind of the best of both worlds. When I’m here, I feel like I’m away at college. I love the people, the environment. My teammates are amazing. And then if I ever want to go home for like a home-cooked meal, it’s only a 45-minute drive, so it’s really, really great.

PB: What’s your favorite memory so far at Towson?
RD: I would say one of the coolest experiences was [in] my freshman year. We beat Florida. How much our team came together and just had so much fun with it and we were able to kind of spend a day in Jacksonville just kind of hanging out and talking about the season, especially going there as the underdog and not really being expected to win or be competitive, it was really, really fun and awesome. Just aside from that, my teammates and the friends I’ve made here are just incredible. Even every day at practice and after practice, especially in preseason when we’re all just hanging out going to the mall and getting food, it makes every day so enjoyable.

PB: You picked up 27 ground balls and caused 15 turnovers in 2021. Is there anything you’ve picked up while playing on the college level about the art of defending?
RD: I would say for me, before coming to college, just playing three sports really taught me how to anticipate the next play. And then coming into college and learning the speed and the technique of the game, I’m always thinking about what could be happening, what could a driver be doing, what could a feeder be doing and I’m always just trying to position myself to be in a position where if the ball hits the ground or if I think they’re going to throw it or shoot it, I’m already a step in the [8-meter arc], or if they’re shooting I’m already a step behind the goal because there is a good chance that they might miss, so I’m honestly just trying to anticipate what could be happening, what the attacker’s trying to do.

PB: What’s your favorite thing about Towson University and the town?
RD: The Towson campus and all of the new buildings that they’re putting up now are just really, really nice and all of the facilities are really great. Me and my teammates, we’re able to kind of walk around campus and find our own separate spots if we want to go study as a group. A lot of them have dogs so we’ll go walks a lot or we’ll walk to get coffee. I love that everything is super close to campus. Even though I have a car on campus, you really don’t need it because everything is so close together. My teammates and I basically live around the same area for the most part, so it’s always super fun to walk to each others’ houses when the weather’s nice. We always go to eat at Nacho Mama’s and Cunningham’s, I would say a lot of the time, especially during preseason we’ll always go to Cunningham’s and get iced coffee, the breakfast sandwiches and just kind of talk about what’s coming up with school, what’s going on in life in general. We have been doing a lot of shopping at the mall, so I would say that’s also a plus to have a nice mall in town. It’s been super fun.

PB: Who’s your best friend on the team and what’s a story that underscores your friendship?
RD: I would say my roommates just recently. I live with juniors on the team — Sam Intrieri, Jenna DiPeso and Liv Malamphy. Being a fifth-year and having to kind of find a new house to live in, people to live with, I lived with my past roommates all three years of my undergrad that we were off campus. I was not scared to be a fifth-year but not knowing what to expect, not knowing it was going to be the same and how the season was going to go. They really took me in, no questions asked and have just been super supportive and have been so, so, so much fun and have really made the transition from my undergrad to grad school no problem whatsoever. It’s been not surprising, but just very, very cool to see how the other girls have really still taken me in as a part of the team even though I am a fifth-year.

PB: Why did you choose to come back for a fifth year?
RD: I don’t think I was completely ready to give up the sport yet. Having an extra year, it just seemed like I had unfinished business that I wanted to do, and it also made sense with my schooling. I’m in the counseling psychology master’s program here at Towson. Taking the two of them together — learning in school how to talk to people, how to communicate, how to listen and being in my fifth year and meeting new people and getting closer with a lot of the younger girls on my team — I’m kind of taking what I’m learning in school and applying it with lacrosse, too. At the end of the year last year it kind of made sense. I didn’t want to give up the sport and I also wanted to continue my schooling. It’s gone really great, hand in hand, for sure.

PB: Who was a player you looked up to when you got to Towson?
RD: Her name was Tianna Wallpher. She coaches at ECU now. Her and also one of my best friends from high school, Sami Chenoweth, were both defenders here. They just really, really took me under their wing and honestly taught me how to not be afraid of the older people, how to be aggressive, how to not play like an underclassman. Every practice, Tianna and Sami would just push me to a new level that I really did not think I had in me, and I really think that they shaped who I am as a defender now. I used to be a midfielder. They really helped with my confidence on the defensive end, and now just being a straight defender, they definitely had an influence on how I play today, for sure.

PB: What advice would you give to younger players?
RD: I would say, especially once they’re getting into the recruiting process, really put yourself out there. Do your wall-balls, do your extra reps, find players that are in the college game that you look up to or that kind of play like you and just try to take a page their book and implement it into your play. Also as you start to get into the recruiting process, don’t take silence as a no. Keep emailing, keep putting your name out there because a lot of the time coaches are super busy and just because you don’t get an immediate response does not mean it’s a no or that they’re not interested. With your skill and with your sport, just have confidence and keep working on your sport but also you as a person so that as you start to get to college, you’re who you want to be and are confident in that.

PB: What are your goals for after lacrosse?
RD: I coach for a club team right now, the Sky Walkers 2028 Blue team, and I love my girls so much and I would really love to stay involved in coaching somehow, whether that be filled with a club team or a local high school or collegiate team. I definitely want to stay involved in the sport and to use my education to help make me a better coach and a person. Staying involved in the sport and then maybe traveling some more once I have a steady job and kind of figure out what I’m doing. Very optimistic for the future. I’m excited.

Photo Credit: John Malamphy

Issue 273: February/March 2022

Luke Jackson

See all posts by Luke Jackson. Follow Luke Jackson on Twitter at @luke_jackson10