Sharon’s Robbins Looks to Close Career with Pac 12 Crown

Sabrina Robbins
Former Sharon standout Sabrina Robbins carries the ball out of defense for the University of Colorado in a recent game against Ohio State. (University of Colorado Athletics)

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During her high school career, former Sharon standout Sabrina Robbins was a dominant presence in the midfield, scoring 175 goals and racking up 78 assists over her four-year varsity career. When she walked onto the field for her first practice as a freshman, it was a little surprising that she found herself lining up as a defender.

Colorado coach Ann Elliott Whidden saw something in Robbins’ game that made her a fit on the defensive end of the field and four years later that instinct has proved to be correct. Robbins started the first game of her career against Florida and played in four other games that season. By her sophomore season, she was a starter and last season helped Colorado put together one of the stingiest defenses in the Pac 12.

“You have to understand that you’re not the best player on the field when you walk in as a freshman,” Robbins said. “My coach saw the value in putting me at defense and I trusted my coach because she could see my strengths, my weaknesses and see where I was best.” She laughed and admitted, “I would still love to get my first goal in college maybe this year but I was never the person who cared about being the flashy goal scorer so I didn’t mind being moved to defense.”

When asked what characteristics the coaches saw in her game that would make her a good defender, Robbins laughed again, “I’m very loud and I’m able to get people to listen to me on the field and that’s very helpful on defense. You need that one anchor and communicating where the slides are and where the ball is at. I also saw the field really well.”

Robbins started 12-of-14 games as a junior and was tied for third on the team with 10 caused turnovers and tied for sixth with 15 ground balls. Colorado allowed 10.93 goals per game, which was second best in the conference.

This season, Robbins has been even better. A senior captain, she has started all 11 games and helped Colorado put together an 8-3 start. She leads the team with 23 ground balls (fifth in the Pac 12) and is third on the Buffaloes with eight caused turnovers. Following a loss at league-leading Stanford, Colorado is currently third in the Pac 12 standings and has rematches coming up against both Arizona State and USC.

“The two losses were tough on the road to USC and ASU,” Robbins said, “but if you said we were going to be 5-2 after seven games, I would’ve been happy with that. The good thing about our league is we get to play everyone twice, so we get a redemption game against them both.”

Colorado responded to those losses by going on a three-game win streak, which included a home win over the Cardinals. The Buffaloes are one of only three programs west of the Mississippi to be ranked in the top 25 (No. 23).

“It’s fairly new, so now I think we’re seeing a lot more kids come to visit and taking a serious look at these schools,” said Robbins about playing in the Pac 12, which only started conference play in 2018. Colorado’s program began in March 2012. “I’ve seen a lot of changes since coming in as a freshman, and good changes I think. It’s great that we have three, four, or five teams that can win it every year. It’s really a toss-up. It really helps that competitive mindset.”

Prior to recent changes in the rules, college lacrosse started the recruiting process early. Robbins joked, “Before I got my permit, I was committed to college.” Introduced to the program by a club coach, Robbins, who had several options locally, took a visit to Boulder and felt a connection with the school, the city, and the team.

“Once I got out here and realized what the school and the city itself has to offer, it was obviously different from anything I had experienced back home,” she explained. “The team, the coach, and the school was a perfect mixture. just had a feeling when I was here that this was a school I wanted to play for.”

Sharon’s program was going through a strong period at that time. With Samantha and Alex Rabb both going to Ithaca, Emma Eberhardt at Lehigh, and Jenna Goldstein playing at Colby College, the Eagles went through a cycle of producing talented college recruits and became a regular in the state tournament.

Robbins said, “I had contemplated, in order to get recruited, do I need to go to a different school, but I think the decision to stay was probably one of the smartest for me because I was able to be that strong midfielder, that strong goal scorer, which I think it helped a lot of my field IQ. It allowed to me to step up as a leader, even as a freshman.”

The transition from Sharon to a Div. I college program was obviously going to be a challenge, although it was less about the on-the-field transition than the amount of time dedicated to the sport. From practices to lifting to mandatory study halls to the travel necessary to play in the Pac 12, lacrosse is a full-time commitment, which made it even more jarring when COVID took that away in the spring of 2020.

“When we got the call that season was going to be canceled, it was jaw-dropping,” Robbins said, remembering that Whidden took a rare phone call in practice to receive the news. “We were working since August that year to start Pac 12 play and to see it get taken away was heartbreaking.

“For us, you always think lacrosse is a constant. You go to practice every day, you lift every day, almost having the same routine, and to get it taken away by something you can’t control made you realize how time is precious in college sports.”

With her senior season reaching the halfway mark, Robbins is confident that the Buffaloes are on the right path to get back into the Pac 12 Tournament and make a run at the title that has eluded them in the past couple of seasons.

“We don’t lack in experience and that helps all over the field,” she said, adding that Colorado also wants to make a mark in the NCAA Tournament this spring. “We have kind of high goals but really excited about where our team can go.”

Robbins reflected on what it would mean to close out her career by winning Colorado’s first Pac 12 title, “Being able to lead your team to one of those championships would probably be the best feeling in the world. To have a ring and to work so hard and to have it pay off with a championship would be incredible. That would be the icing on the cake before graduation.”

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