As Oregon lacrosse player Bella Pyne entered her first year of collegiate lacrosse, she was a little overwhelmed.
Bella was transitioning from playing low defense in high school to handling the ball more often as a midfielder at a higher level of play.
“The game is so much faster in college and I was really frustrated in the fall,” Bella said.
Bella didn’t have to look too far for suggestions on how to push through. Her older sister Olivia, who is currently a junior on the lacrosse team, had some advice for Bella. Not just any advice, but advice that happened to be passed on to Olivia by another pair of sisters — her former Oregon teammates, Jess and Jana Drummond.
The advice — “Keep running. If you just keep running, you can never go wrong.”
The tip may be working for Bella in her freshman year, as last week she earned conference honors and was awarded MPSF Rookie of the Week for her performance during the team’s road trip to Southern California. Bella tallied five goals over the weekend, while her older sister Olivia scored four.
The Pyne sisters first picked up the sport as kids when they moved to Maryland, a state known as a hub for lacrosse and the home to many of the top talent.
The two first started playing together on a recreation team and reunited as teammates once again in high school when Bella made the varsity team her freshman year.
At South River High School in Edgewater, Md., the Pyne sisters helped the Seahawks to its first state championship in school history.
“It was really cool coming in as a freshman and winning the state title,” Bella said. “It was really awesome to say that two sisters were on that team.”
Oregon first became a school on Olivia’s radar due to current Oregon assistant coach Jen Derby, who also attended South River and played for the same high school coach as the Pynes. Initially, Olivia was reluctant to go to school on the West Coast. In fact, her original flight to Eugene got cancelled and she wasn’t even planning to visit. Her parents said she should give it a shot, so she did.
Olivia committed to Oregon just two days after her visit.
“I love the environment and I love the team,” Olivia said. “I love how there are a bunch of girls from the east coast that you don’t even feel like you are that far from home.”
For Bella, she said that Olivia was not a factor in her decision to attend Oregon, but instead her love for the school.
“I didn’t originally want to go to school with my sister since we played together my whole life. I was interested in starting something new for myself,” Bella said.
When the recruiting process became stressful for Bella, she decided to visit Oregon and her sister. Just like Olivia, it took Bella only two days to officially become a Duck.
Although they are sisters, they pride themselves on having separate lives and being independent.
“Since I have been here, I don’t really rely on my sister at all,” Bella said. “I actually only really see her at practice and occasionally at the Jaqua Center, which is really nice because I was able to create my own path.”
The sisters say they like that they don’t have to rely on each other, but Bella added that she does feel comfort in knowing she can go over to Olivia’s place without having to ask. The two also occasionally have dinner together.
“It was really important to me that she (Bella) created her own college experience,” said Olivia.
The sisters also both admitted there is no sibling rivalry between them.
“Growing up I definitely looked up to her,” Bella said. “I always wanted to play well against my sister, but I wasn’t looking to beat her, just to get better.”
Olivia agreed that she doesn’t feel competitive with her sister.
“At practice the other day somebody asked us ‘Oh, do you guys mark up on each other on purpose’ and I was like ‘No, I don’t think, ‘Oh that’s my sister I am going to take it to her,’” Olivia said. “Sometimes I even forget we are on the same team … It’s nothing out of the ordinary for us.”
Tenth year head coach Jen Beck echoed similar thoughts.
“It’s truly just like two teammates that play on the same team and just happen to be sisters,” said Beck.
Beck also added that the two are very different, but share some attributes.
“Quite honestly, they are very different,” said Beck. “But, they are similar in ways. They are both hard working, very determined and coachable.”
Both Pyne sisters have done a solid job for the Ducks so far this season, with the duo combining for 18 goals and seven assists on the season.
The sisters joining as teammates in college has been a natural transition, but the pair did share a sibling moment in the Ducks’ 19-7 win against St. Mary’s this month.
Olivia found Bella in front of the net and dished her the ball for a goal. The sisters joked that they have been looking forward to a sister to sister goal, but when it happened Bella laughed that she initially didn’t notice that the pass was from her big sis.
“It was really exciting,” Olivia said. “Pyne to Pyne — it’s cool.”
Follow Beth Maiman on Twitter @bethamaiman