Blair Pearre’s Flair For Competition Fuels Towson Women’s Lacrosse

Junior midfielder Blair Pearre was all-in when some of her Towson teammates pushed the idea of coming back early from winter break to get a jump on lacrosse workouts ahead of the 2022 season.

Pearre (pronounced “Paree”) has always loved the game she excels in, and well, while extra work in the weight room and more conditioning in frigid temperatures isn’t for everyone, yeah, count the Pikesville, Md., native in. Those familiar with the first-team All-Colonial Athletic Association midfielder aren’t surprised she’d be on board for extra work with her teammates, and the spirit throughout the program bodes well for all involved.

“She has such a mental edge, she’s such a fierce competitor,” Towson head coach Sonia LaMonica said of Pearre’s competitive nature and commanding combination of lacrosse skills. “She will not be denied the cage. She’s not afraid to use her body and use her strength to get to the critical scoring area.”

Pearre parlayed those talents into team highs of 58 goals, 66 total points and 33 ground balls last season, also finishing second on the squad with 68 draw controls. Her 31 free-position goals (scores after penalties in the 8-meter area around the goal) led the CAA and ranked second nationally.

That Pearre is peerless in such key spots — around the goal and in faceoff situations — is also no surprise. That’s where her competitiveness is magnified.

Pearre’s Star Burning Bright

Towson played a schedule rated the fifth toughest in the country (10 games against NCAA Tournament teams) but battled to a 9-9 COVID-complicated record and struggled in the powerful CAA in 2021. Still, they finished the year No. 23 in the final Inside Lacrosse media poll and were as high as No. 11 at one point.

Pearre thinks the Tigers will really roar in 2022.

“I think we’re going to do great things this season,” she said. “Our freshman class is pretty strong and putting in a lot of extra work after practice. We’ve got fifth-years who have returned and they’re going to be good leaders.”

LaMonica can rattle off a long list of key players returning — always a good sign in the preseason — but all eyes will be on Pearre, who as a sophomore last year had 20 more goals than any teammate and shot .547 on her attempts to rank in the top 50 nationally.

“She’s got a low center of gravity,” LaMonica said of her 5-foot-5 catalyst. “She’s just so agile and her change of direction is phenomenal. She’s a nightmare to guard. Her mental drive, though, really separates her from others.”

And Pearre has been driving herself and highly successful teams for a long time, all the way back to fourth grade when she began playing. LaMonica first saw Pearre with club powerhouse M&D Lacrosse and was immediately drawn to her stouthearted style. Surrounded by tons of M&D talent, what stood out wasn’t just her physical skill.

“She would be knocked on the ground and be right back up,” LaMonica said. “She had a scrappiness to her game. … Her style just really matched our style in that she’s tough and gritty. You’ve got so many players out there who are going Division I, very polished or have a certain flair to their game but Blair is just more of a tenacious player.

“That’s the first thing I noticed, ‘Hey, this kid gets herself on the 8-meter over and over again. And she finishes.’ That can separate winning and losing a game.”

Playing for M&D Black and coach Chris Robinson, who also happens to be her stepfather, Pearre did a lot of winning coming up through the ranks, something she continued at McDonogh, first for Robinson and then for another M&D product in Taylor Cummings, the three-time Tewaaraton Award winner at Maryland.

Just Win, Blair

All those victories — Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championships in 2016, 2017 and 2019, as well as a No. 1 national ranking in 2019 — make coaches perk up and notice.

“She comes from a great high school program and she’s accustomed to winning — she wants to win,” LaMonica said. “She’s somebody that helps set the bar and bring that mentality to the people around her.”

Pearre also won enough high school Player of the Year hardware and honors to fill a small museum. When it came time to pick a college, she stayed close.

“I’m definitely a homebody and when I came onto campus, I was comfortable and just knew this is where I wanted to be,” she said of Towson.

So Pearre moved about 10 miles down the road in 2020, led the team with 14 goals and was named CAA Rookie of the Year at the conclusion of the COVID-condensed campaign.

“The coaches had told me how they thought I could come and fit right in,” she said. “I was ready.”

In addition to that opportunity to shine on the field, Towson also offered a respected nursing program, Pearre’s profession preference. The demands of her sport and the demanding training for nursing didn’t mesh, though. She’s a health education and promotion major but taking prerequisites, with a goal to enroll in an advanced nursing degree program when she’s done scoring lacrosse goals.

But first, there are other issues to address — like winning more games at Towson, as she has done at every other level. The Tigers, always stalking big games, haven’t had a winning record since 2018, and the veterans are ready to change that. Pearre must lead the pack.

She knows the deal.

“Yeah, I always get that word — competitive,” she laughed. “Competitive, gritty, tough … those are the words a lot of people say about me. I guess it’s because when I’m out there I’m constantly hunting for the ball, the next goal or the next defensive play.”

That desire makes her an ideal midfielder. She wants to be embedded in all aspects of competing to win. End to end, always in the middle of the action.

“I’ve always been that way, not sure where it comes from,” she added. “I’m a middle child. Older brother, younger sister, maybe it stems a little from that. I’ve always been competitive my whole life.”

Setback And Comeback

Wherever the natural fire comes from, Pearre embraces the pursuit of excellence. She describes herself in much the same way as she jokes about others analyzing her.

“I’d say I’m a pretty tough player. I get knocked down and I get back up again,” she said. “I never give up on the field. I always put my 100 percent effort into it, and I love working for my teammates.”

That drive helped Pearre push through a bad knee injury in the final game of 2021. She fractured her tibial plateau at the knee joint and was out all summer. Pearre couldn’t even run during the offseason, and the fall practices were tough on her mentally. An injection of gel into the knee provided extra support and allowed Pearre to get back to full speed to, well, provide extra support for her teammates.

Then grad student captains Rayna Deltuva and Kaitlin Thornton got the ball rolling, pushing the early return to practice in January. Manchester, Md., native Deltuva started 18 games on defense a year ago, and Thornton tallied 23 goals and five assists last year. Thornton’s sister Kerri added 20 goals and nine helpers. Senior defensive ace Erin Williams of Parkton, Md., always draws the toughest assignment. And that’s just a few of the Tigers back to drive the program toward big things.

“Winning is the best part about playing,” Pearre said. “Nobody wants to lose, and I know everybody on the team wants to win and be successful.”

Photo Credit: John Malamphy

Issue 273: February/March 2022

Originally published Feb. 16, 2022

Mike Ashley

See all posts by Mike Ashley. Follow Mike Ashley on Twitter at @lrgsptswrtr