By Hayley Tafuro
WILTON—Casey and Makenna Pearsall are a unique pair. After graduating Wilton High School in 2013 and excelling as a tri-sport athlete, Casey moved on to the University of Notre Dame to pursue a Division I lacrosse career. Just over the course of this past year, news broke that Makenna made the decision to join her sister with the Notre Dame lacrosse program, giving these sisters another two years to be teammates, but this time at the next level.
“The possibility of playing with Casey didn’t impact my decision as much as you would expect,” Makenna confessed. “But if you’re playing on the same team as a sibling in college, then you must have a good relationship with them because you will be spending a lot of time together. That wasn’t a worry for me because Casey and I get along well together. The thought of playing with her was only another positive for Notre Dame.”
Although Makenna’s decision was purely her own, Casey could not completely keep quiet before everything was said and done.
“Of course I wanted Makenna to make her own decision, but I would always share what a great experience I was having my first year while she was making her decision,” Casey said. “I could only hope after that.”
The girls were teammates in high school during Makenna’s freshman and sophomore years at Wilton on the soccer, basketball and lacrosse teams. They were clearly gifted with athletic ability and a vast knowledge for each game. Now Makenna has had a one-year break from being on the field and the court with her sister, and will have one more until they reunite at college.
“I think that playing with Casey in college will be a little bit the same since we played together in high school, but also different because we have both improved since the last time that we were on the same field,” Makenna said.
Despite the different sports that they were involved in together, lacrosse has always been the number one game. In fact, it even runs in the family. Their father, Steve, also played lacrosse at Notre Dame, making it even more exciting for Casey and Makenna to carry on the family tradition together.
“It’s awesome, I love the fact that my dad played lacrosse here and we get the chance to continue the tradition,” Casey said. “Our whole family loves Notre Dame, especially Notre Dame lacrosse, and it makes everything that we are going to do so much more special.”
Casey finished a challenging but fun freshman season at Notre Dame, which now has one year competing in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The team went 9-7 during the regular season after having one of the tougher schedules in the country, and notched the eighth seed in the NCAA Tournament. It fell in the second round to Duke.
“This year had so many great moments, and it was a great freshman year. It was my first season back after tearing my ACL, and with each game I felt stronger and finally started to get back to myself on the field,” Casey said.
As for Makenna, she is fresh off a Class M state championship victory over New Canaan heading into her senior year at Wilton. She has already set goals for herself to finish her career on a strong note.
“For my last lacrosse season at Wilton, I really want the team to do well,” she said. “It’s always our goal to win both the FCIAC and state championships, but for my personal goal I want to improve my weaknesses and push myself to play beyond my comfort zone.”
The chapter in Wilton for the girls is about to end, however there is much more ahead of them for the future of their careers. Their story could not have taken a more appropriate turn.
“We’ve been playing together forever,” Casey said. “Passing in the backyard with my dad turned into playing on the same club teams, eventually on the same high school team, and soon to be college team. I have gotten the chance to see Makenna grow on and off the field, and there is something so special about seeing your little sister become the person she is today. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Although Makenna is maintaining her focus on her senior season, her excitement for the future is definitely in the back of her mind.
“Having the opportunity to play at Notre Dame is surreal,” she said. “I can’t wait to make my own legacy alongside my sister.”