A lasting impact
Ochwat uses hard work, commitment to become Quinnipiac lacrosse’s all-time points leader
Senior Kyra Ochwat starts her day every morning at 5 a.m.
She heads to the weight room for a team lifting session, and by 8 a.m., she’s going back to her room to get ready for class. After class, she heads to practice to physically and mentally prepare for the women’s lacrosse team’s next game.
After practice, her day still isn’t over.
“Any gap time that I have, I eat food or I am doing work until the night time where I go to more classes or I am doing more work,” Ochwat said.
Her daily routine is an example of her commitment to the program. On April 1, Ochwat became Quinnipiac’s all-time program scoring leader.
Ochwat was a selection to the 2014 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference All-Academic Team and the 2014 MAAC First Team, setting an example for her teammates both on and off the turf.
Ochwat isn’t all business, though. Off the field, her coaches and teammates say Ochwat is enjoyable to be around.
“Kyra is a really cool person off the field,” women’s lacrosse head coach Danie Caro said. “She is very intelligent and has an irreverent sense of humor. She can be goofy at times, but also very serious when she needs to be. She is a great friend to her teammates, and has been very valuable to us in terms of helping us to recruit subsequent classes.”
Ochwat started playing lacrosse at 6. Her parents put her in clinics where she would learn the game through experience, and by watching her older brothers play.
Over the years, her skills improved and she drew interest from many NCAA Division I programs. Many schools offered, but Ochwat and her parents were split on two programs: Quinnipiac and Cornell.
Ochwat says she liked Quinnipiac because of the bond she formed with the coaches at the university. She also enjoyed the beauty of the campus.
Her parents, however, wanted her to attend Cornell.
“My parents will actually say I should have went to Cornell. It’s a sore subject in the household,” Ochwat said. “It’s an Ivy League school so they made a big deal about it. But I fell in love with Quinnipiac and decided to come here.”
Ochwat’s decision was something that seemed to surprise Caro.
“To be honest, I wasn’t sure how mentally tough Kyra would be,” Caro said. “It’s always hard to measure a person when you first meet them, and sometimes we are completely wrong in our assessment.”
Caro was impressed with the fact that Ochwat made such a big decision by herself.
“Kyra took charge of her own recruiting process, and didn’t allow outside influences to force her into making her decision before she was ready,” Caro said. “That told me a lot about the type of person she was, and I definitely liked what I saw.”
Coming into school her freshman year, Ochwat described herself as an “awkward” individual. College was different, and the only thing that remained constant was lacrosse.
During her freshman season, Ochwat began to realize her potential. She scored 32 goals and recorded seven assists, which helped her earn the 2012 Northeast Conference Rookie of the Year award.
“I had so many teammates supporting me freshman year,” Ochwat said. “They saw my potential and the coaching staff saw my potential, so once I saw they believed in me it helped me believe in myself.”
The following year, Ochwat turned potential into results. She followed up her freshman campaign with 41 goals and a career-high 18 assists (59 total points). Her play earned her a spot on the 2013 NEC All-First Team. She had recorded 98 points through her first two years at Quinnipiac, and was on pace to challenge former women’s lacrosse forward Sarah Allen’s program record of 194 career points.
Ochwat’s offensive ability pleased her coaches. Her unique playmaking ability made things easier for everyone else on the field.
“Having a player like Kyra on the team benefits everyone. She is a role model for her teammates, and she pushes other players to be better,” Caro said. “She also takes a lot of pressure off of everyone else. She has always been a major focus of our opponents, and that has allowed some of her teammates to develop and mature at their own pace.”
Ochwat’s junior campaign was arguably her best. She compiled a career-high 44 goals and tied a career-high with 18 assists, which gave her 62 points for the season and 160 for her career (fourth place at the time).
Though she was on pace to break both the program points and goals records, she didn’t let the stats get to her head.
“When I first arrived, I just wanted to play,” Ochwat said. “I didn’t care about any records and I still don’t care about any of the records in a sense that the team experience matters to me more. It’s all about having fun.”
Coming into the season, Kyra was named assistant captain with fellow senior teammate Vicki Kuhn.
“Together we have gone through a lot. We have become pretty good leaders,” Kuhn said. “We have gone from struggling to being top players on the team. She has grown a lot and it is awesome to have played with her and gone through the change with her.”
Ochwat came into the season needing only 35 points to become Quinnipiac’s all-time program leader. She also only needed 28 goals to reach the top of the program’s goal list, as well.
On April 1, 2015, the Bobcats hosted MAAC foe Monmouth. Ochwat needed three points to become the program’s career leader.
She wasn’t hooked on the concept of breaking the record though. She was more focused on something else.
“I didn’t think of it at the time, it wasn’t something that was in the front of my mind,” Ochwat said. “It was more about focusing on winning the game rather than worry about the record.”
With under six minutes to go in the second half, Ochwat broke the all-time points record on a goal that gave her 195 career points and tied the game.
“After I broke the record, no one on the team consciously knew I did at the time but I knew,” Ochwat said. “I scored the goal and celebrated the score a couple moments after it occurred. But once the next draw happened it was out of my mind and I was focused on winning the game.”
The Bobcats went on to lose the contest, but Ochwat’s teammates were still proud of her.
“I was excited when she broke the record. She is a passionate player and is so hard-working and talented,” Kuhn said. “You mix those three things together you knew it would happen, it was more a matter of when. It was very exciting, we aren’t just teammates, we are best friends. As a best friend it’s all that you could hope for.”
Ochwat would go on to break the program’s all-time career goals mark, and eventually became Quinnipiac lacrosse’s top scorer (men’s and women’s).
Caro believes that Ochwat’s records won’t be broken for a long time.
“Kyra is undoubtedly the most prolific scorer to ever play at Quinnipiac,” Caro said.
“I think that what has made her so effective is that she can produce points for us in so many different ways. She can score on a 1-v-1, she can score off a feed, she can score in transition, she can hit a cutter, she can basically take advantage of whatever the defense has given her.”Follow @Tyrell_Walden