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When the time came for Zara Wiest to find a club to play for, she knew that she wanted to find something a little different than the norm.

The Team 91 Tristate and Wilton (Conn.) 2020 defender wanted to experience something different, and that was a major reason why she decided to take a chance on Team 91 Tri-State, a newer, up-and-coming program built in the mold of the successful Team 91 program out of Long Island.

“My brother played lacrosse, and 91 has always been a very big team for boys, so I knew about it from that,” Wiest said. “I kind of wanted to get away from teams that my high school teammates played with and I wanted to play with different people. I figured that it would be so much fun since everyone’s from different schools and a couple different states.”

As it turns out, that decision helped her make club history when she committed to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, becoming the first 91 Tri-State girl to offer a verbal commitment to a school. She won’t be the last one, and she’s excited to have many of her teammates join her in the committed ranks in the near future.

“I didn’t really notice it, because a lot of my teammates are looking at great schools and working on committing,” Wiest said. “I was the first one because I made up my mind earlier, but there are going to be a lot more.”

“We’re excited for Zara to not only be our first commit, but also for her opportunity to play and study at a great tech school like RPI,” Team 91 Tri-State director Mike Bocklet said. “She’s worked very hard to put herself in a great situation, and she had her pick of some big-time academic schools. She embodies what we look for in our players: talented and driven on the field and in the classroom, and we can’t wait to watch her as an Engineer.”

RPI’s science-based programs played a significant role in catching’s Wiest’s eye, as did a solid program with recent conference championships. Ultimately, it was the combination of everything that RPI had to offer that sold her on making the trek to upstate New York.

“I’m very interested in medicine, and they have a good program for it with the Albany medical school,” Wiest said. “After a year, if you have a certain GPA, you can apply to it, which is nice. I also really loved the coach (Leslie DeLano) and her players. I also kind of originally just wanted to use lacrosse as a way to get into a school that I couldn’t get into on my own, but gradually, I started looking for a good team that wanted me. I also loved that they valued academics first over lacrosse.”

As a defender, Wiest prides herself on operating well within the team defense first. She’s also seen things from a different perspective, because as a freshman, she injured her hip and couldn’t run. When the Wilton freshman team’s goalie suffered a concussion, though, Wiest jumped into the cage and played goalie, which gave her a finer understanding for how everything works.

“I think it actually really improved my defense because I was constantly communicating with defenders,” Wiest said. “I saw how much it matters if the defense doesn’t slide, and it helped me understand more. I’ve always liked defense, though. I became really passionate about it, and I like stopping people.”

Safe to say it worked out.