Soares in full military dress outfit.

OWINGS MILLS, Md. - Meghan McNamara couldn't believe it.

An incoming freshman, Bridgett Soares was standings in McNamara's office and wanting a shot at a spot on the Long Island University Post women's lacrosse roster. Nothing unusual there, really. Lots of high-school lacrosse players dream of playing lacrosse in college.

McNamara asked Soares a logical question. Where did she play her high-school lacrosse?

She didn't.

Okay, fine. How much lacrosse had Soares played, ever?

She hadn't.

If nothing else, the young woman had guts to even approach McNamara. LIU Post's name had sounded professional, and that's basically all that led her to the school. She applied, got accepted and made the cross-country move to New York. She ran track at Yuma High School back in her hometown of San Diego, and she was "nothing" at basketball.

Lacrosse looked interesting enough, so what the heck? Why not give it a shot? She bounded into McNamara's office, hoping for her blessing.

"[McNamara] kind of looked at me like, 'Is she serious?!?'" said Soares, who had a twin brother. "But she was nice enough and was like, 'Okay, yeah. Come try out.' She just looked at me like I was crazy. I guess she really just liked me. She let me stick around."

McNamara couldn't help but laugh at the memory.

"She just walked into my office and told me she wanted to be part of our team, just like that," McNamara said. "We were already in the middle of our fall season when it happened, so I just said, 'We're just going to throw you out there. The captains and everyone will help you throughout the practices. Good luck.'"

Soares played in eight games that freshman season, picked up one ground ball and creating a turnover. By her junior year last year, Soares had matured to the point where she started in 16 of the 18 games in which she played. A defender, Soares started every game this year for the Pioneers.

"Sophomore year, I did better in practices and stuff. I felt more comfortable, but definitely junior year is when I felt more comfortable," Soares said. "Meg helped me out a lot. I did a lot of extra stick work on the side, outside of practice.

"I would have to say it was mostly my teammates. The first weekend I went to practice, the other freshmen who were starting out on the team, they were like, 'If you want to do stick work, let us know. We'll work with you.' They've been there ever since. If I don't understand something, I just ask them and they're all there for me."

If picking up lacrosse was one step in Soares' life journey, she has already taken another. After completing Officer Candidate School, Soares was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.

This time, at least, she had a little bit of a background with the Marines. Both parents - Ronald and Kim - served in that branch of the military.

"I wanted to join right after high school, but my parents wanted me to get a college education," Soares said. "I was like, 'Alright, how about I go to school and still do the Marine Corps thing at the same time?' They were both completely supportive of that.

"After the first year of college, I went to Officer Candidate School. That's basically officer boot camp, and I went there for six weeks. Then, this past summer, I did the second part of OCS. I finished both parts."

Friday, May 10 was a big day for Soares. She graduated from LIU Post with a degree in criminal justice, and she was also commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. She could report for active duty any time between now and October.

"That was awesome," she concluded. "I am in the Marines now!"

She doesn't know right now what her specialty might be, but she's hoping for something in counterintelligence. After her experience at LIU Post and making it through OCS, it would probably be a good idea not to bet against her.