‘Bella is playing big time right now.’ Peterson becomes JMU’s all-time goal scorer
HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The 2023 season has been one to remember for James Madison’s Isabella Peterson.
On Wednesday, Peterson was named the American Athletic Conference’s Attack Player of the Year. Just last week, she etched her name into the JMU record books when she became the program’s all-time leader in goals scored when she scored career goal 202 against East Carolina in the regular season finale.
The accomplishment is not something Peterson sought.
“When I came to JMU, it wasn’t a goal of mine,” said Peterson. “I established team goals that I wanted. Along the way, goals started adding up.”
During the last two seasons, Peterson has totaled 142 goals.
“I think right out of the gate, Bella has been stepping up in her practices and showing us she can be lethal, said JMU head coach Shelley Klaes. “It doesn’t surprise me that she’s dominated the goal stats the way she has.”
While Peterson is proud of the accomplishment, she’s quick to point out that it’s as much a team accomplishment as it is individual.
“Our amazing defense, they’ve pushed me,” said Peterson. “I also couldn’t have done it without my attackers. Caitlin. Maddie. Hitting me on cuts. Always looking for me. I’m proud of the accomplishment but I couldn’t have done it without the rest of the team.”
Peterson has quickly become a leader on the team. Players like Maddie Epke look up to her.
“[Bella’s] amazing. She’s one of my biggest role models here,” said Epke. “She’s been so kind to me and helped me so much and in so many ways. I’m so honored to get to play with her and learn from her and I’m just so excited to see how she keeps going. I think she deserves every accolade she’s earned.”
As the JMU lacrosse team makes plans for a deep postseason run, there’s no denying they could play deep into May, thanks to Peterson.
“Bella is playing big time right now,” said Klaes. “She’s driving the process right now. She’s out here before anyone come. She stays late after practice. It’s her hunger. It’s her work ethic. She deserves every accolade she’s getting.”
The Dukes face Cincinnati in the the AAC Tournament opener on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.
In addition to Peterson’s recognition from the AAC, Mairead Durkin was named Defensive Player of the Year while the coaching staff was named Coaching Staff of the Year.
A total of nine Dukes received all-conference honors. Peterson, Durkin, Tai Jankowski, and Rachel Matey all were named to the first-team.
Kat Buchanan, Lizzy Fox, Taylor Marchetti, and Katelyn Morgan, and Epke were all named to the second-team.
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