In 2007, something didn’t feel right for Caroline Margolis.
The North Carolina native was in the seventh grade at the time. She had two brothers and one sister, and they were all competitive. So Margolis funneled that familial nature into soccer.
But by the time eighth grade rolled around that fall, soccer didn’t hold the same charm anymore. Something about it just wasn’t clicking, and she was pretty tired of playing it. So when her best friend approached her and asked about lacrosse, Margolis decided to give it a try. It wasn’t the thrill of the sport that initially tempted her, but the opportunity to play with friends. She joined her best friend’s team and began her lacrosse career.
Lacrosse ran in the Margolis family, as Margolis’ older sister Hillary started playing the sport in middle school. According to Hillary, it wasn’t smooth sailing from the get-go. Her first memory of Margolis and lacrosse is at the beach, when the two of them bought plastic sticks so that they could practice. Then, neither showed any signs of brilliance.
Even so, no one ever doubted that Margolis would become a good lacrosse player. Not just good, but Division I good. There was never any question, because she gave 110 percent at everything she did.
She won't settle for anything less than her personal best. Hillary Margolis, Caroline's older sister
She was competitive and driven, a naturally gifted athlete who would never stop striving to improve. And when Margolis mastered the basic skills, she began to excel, both at the high school and travel levels. Eventually, she would become one of the ACC’s most versatile and driven players, making her mark on the conference and gathering accolades throughout her first three years in college.
The only thing left was a national championship.
In high school, Margolis continued to balance schoolwork and sports as she played field hockey and lacrosse—as a midfielder—for her high school team. She served as lacrosse captain for her junior and senior seasons, capturing the state title in 2012. As a sophomore, Margolis joined the travel club Carolina Fever to hone her skills in a more competitive environment. Margolis’ coach at the time, Katy O’Mara, was impressed with her from the start.
O’Mara praised Margolis’ drive, determination, and focus. She considers her the best player she has ever worked with at handling constructive criticism. Indeed, according to O’Mara, Margolis sought it out. She prioritized lacrosse and strove to improve, always seeking advice on areas she could develop in order to transform into a truly elite lacrosse player.
Hillary says she realized that Margolis would be playing college lacrosse about halfway through high school, after the two sisters had attended recruiting camps and discussed the possibility of playing at a higher level with coaches and their family. Caroline worked hard and did everything possible to maximize her exposure to college coaches, including playing at tournaments and showcases, as well as working at lacrosse camps and teaching younger players the game. Though both sisters played lacrosse, Margolis was much more serious about taking it to the next level, according to Hillary.
This determination paid off when she committed to play at BC. Her arrival in Chestnut Hill in 2012 coincided with a turning point for the school’s lacrosse program. For more than 10 years, BC had either finished with a losing record or hovered right around .500. The Eagles were trying to make the transition into an ACC powerhouse led by a new coach, Acacia Walker, and a promising group of underclassmen. Walker played college lacrosse at Maryland and coached at Northwestern during the Wildcats’ three consecutive national titles. When she accepted the job at BC, Walker aimed to cultivate a winning program just like she did at Northwestern. O’Mara said Margolis was excited about the change and enthusiastic to rise to the challenge of Division I college lacrosse.
Beginning with her freshman campaign in spring 2013, Margolis made her mark. Over the course of the season, she scored six goals, including her first two collegiate goals in an ACC victory over Virginia Tech. Her two assists both came in a win against Canisius College. The Eagles went 12-8 in 2013—a respectable record, but better times were just ahead for the team.
Over the next two years, BC became a dominant member of the ACC while Margolis stepped up and assumed a leadership role for the team. 2014’s 16-5 record marked a key transition for the Eagles, as they became a legitimate conference threat. That season saw key regular-season victories against Notre Dame and Duke, among others. Margolis added two goals in the victory over the Fighting Irish. The Eagles also suffered close losses to historically dominant teams like Syracuse, Maryland, and North Carolina, all by two goals or fewer. The season ended in May when the Orange defeated BC in a close NCAA quarterfinal game, 11-9—the same score as the teams’ regular-season matchup.
The 15-4 2015 season was paced by victories over Syracuse, Louisville, and UNC. Margolis contributed one goal in the thrilling 10-9 victory over the Orange, three goals in the overtime 16-15 win against the Cardinals, and one goal in BC’s 10-9 overtime victory against her home state’s Tar Heels. Though the Eagles continued to emerge as one of the ACC’s most competitive teams, they exited the NCAA Tournament earlier than in 2014 with a crushing second-round loss to Loyola University Maryland.
BC’s goal for the past few years was simple: bring the hardware home to Chestnut Hill with a national championship victory. The talent is there, and the drive is there, and the heart is there, but it just hasn’t happened yet for Walker’s Eagles. Now, Margolis is bringing her skill and competitiveness to the field every game to ensure that this is the year for BC to finally win it all.
“Knowing Caroline,” O’Mara said in an email, “I would have to guess she wants nothing more than for her team to be the last one standing come May.”
Walker is full of praise for Margolis. She complimented her versatility on the field and far-reaching impact for the team.
Margolis will rise to any challenge Walker gives her. She excels at the tasks she is given, whether it’s playing shutdown defense, controlling the middle of the field, or pacing the offense with assists and goals.
Without ever being asked to be a standard-bearer, she always was. Katy O'Mara, Margolis' former head coach with the Carolina Fever
The stat sheet certainly supports this. As a midfielder, Margolis has to be all over the field and prepared to run for 60 minutes straight. As a result, she makes an impact both offensively and defensively for the Eagles. Her lacrosse IQ—according to Walker, it’s “off the charts,” and Margolis herself feels it is her biggest strength—has created a multitude of scoring opportunities for the past three years. Earlier this season, she notched her 100th career point as an Eagle during a 19-6 victory over Holy Cross. She earned the record after her first of three points in the decisive win over the Crusaders.
So with a naturally competitive approach to the sport, a high lacrosse IQ, and considerable talent, it’s a no-brainer that Margolis is serving as one of BC’s captains this year. Everyone who knows her agrees that she’s a natural leader. She brings her competitive nature to the field every day—regardless of whether it’s just a regular practice or an all-important game against Syracuse—and she always has.
The example Margolis set for other Carolina Fever players still resonates to this day. O’Mara said that current players in the program still talk about her, four years after she graduated from the team.
“[The players] still look up to her,” she said. “She set an example for us. Without ever being asked to be a standard-bearer, she always was.”
2016 is Margolis’ last chance to bring an NCAA championship trophy home to BC. She’s had an incredible career with the Eagles. Leading the team to victory in the national championship will ensure that she’ll be immortalized here on the Heights, just like she is in the Carolina Fever program.
And she wants it bad.
This year, an Inside Lacrosse preseason poll ranked Margolis as a Second Team All-American. This is just the latest in a long list of accolades she has accumulated throughout her lacrosse career. In high school she was twice named All-American, to go along with the numerous awards given by her athletic conference as well as newspapers. In addition, the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association voted her as a Second Team Northeast Region player last year. If these accolades aren’t enough, Margolis and teammate Sarah Mannelly are on the Tewaaraton Award watch list for 2016.
The awards may be nice, but Hillary says they are not all-important to her sister.
“I think Caroline is mainly a self-motivator,” she said. “She won’t settle for anything less than her personal best.”
But there is one award that would excite anyone, and Margolis is no exception. The thought of winning the national championship is her biggest motivation this season, and it pushes her to perform her very best in every practice and game.
Back in 2007, when Margolis first started playing lacrosse, it was far-fetched to think that one day she would be a national champion. She took up the sport at the request of her best friend. The beginning of her lacrosse career—passing on the beach with her sister—didn’t show any particular promise. But in the years since, Margolis has excelled. She has passed through her high school and Carolina Fever to leave an admirable legacy behind in North Carolina. She has made her impact on the Eagles. Now, as a senior, she has a few goals in mind. She wants that rematch with Syracuse. She definitely wants a rematch with North Carolina.
She wants a national championship.