It’s a Tuesday afternoon, and sisters Cara and Mary Kate Facchina walk off the field after another afternoon practice, something they’ve done hundreds of times.
They come into the Woody Hayes Athletic Center where it is impossible to miss the big smiles spread across their faces. They are excited to be interviewed, even if it means at times cutting each other off, but hey — they’re sisters.
Growing up in Glenwood, Md., Cara and MK, (as her team calls her), grew up around the hot bed of lacrosse, but it took a while before they were introduced to the sport.
“We started in middle school which is kind of unusual for being from Maryland because everyone is born with a stick in their hand,” junior Mary Kate Facchina said. “We always played basketball and tennis and then when we got introduced to lacrosse, we loved it from the start.”
“My middle school basketball coach took our whole team and made a rec lacrosse team,” senior Cara Facchina said. “We ended up doing really well. This was in seventh grade and we won the championship for our rec league so it was a big deal. Then most of the girls moved on to play travel and then in high school and college.”
Coming from an athletic family, Cara and Mary Kate played tennis, basketball and lacrosse while attending Mount de Sales Academy. With three older siblings who attended Virginia Tech — including Julia Facchina, who played tennis for the Hokies — it seemed as if the sisters could have easily ended up in Blacksburg, Va., as well.
However, after traveling to Columbus on a friend’s recommendation, Cara and Mary Kate knew where they would end up.
“One of my friends from back home, Alayna Markwordt, who played here two years ago, introduced us to Ohio State and encouraged us to come out and visit,” Cara Facchina said. “It was never really on my radar when I was younger. Mary Kate and I and my mom drove all through the night one day to come out and visit with the coaches and we just fell in love with the school, the campus and the tradition.”
Since officially arriving on campus, Cara and Mary Kate have made an impact on and off the field.
Becoming OSU scholar athletes as well as an integral part of the team, coach Alexis Venechanos said the sisters’ willingness to do whatever it takes to improve, even if that means switching positions, is what makes them special players.
“Cara and MK are probably one of the hardest workers on our team,” Venechanos said. “They are great role models for our players. Cara, we moved her to attack after freshman year, and she definitely transformed herself to the crease attacker … so she actually put in a lot of hard work to do that. It’s awesome coaching a player like the both of them.”
During her career as a Buckeye, Cara — a forward — has totaled 102 points (57 goals, 45 assists) in 55 games. In only her junior season, Mary Kate has shown the scoring touch as well, registering 59 points (56 goals, three assists) in 46 games as a midfielder.
Venechanos said despite the numbers Cara and Mary Kate put up, both are more concerned about the team, a quality she really admires.
“They are always looking for each other but they are also looking for their teammates,” Venechanos said. “They are both really humble, so for me as a coach, I like coaching them and pumping them up sometimes because they don’t give themselves sometimes the credit they really deserve.”
Individually, Cara and Mary Kate said growing up and learning the sport of lacrosse together has helped them develop a special kind of chemistry on the field.
“We just have the sister connection,” Cara Facchina said. “We always kind of know what each other wants to do.”
“It’s kind of funny because sometimes we look at each other and know what we’re thinking on the field, when I’m cutting and when she’s feeding,” Mary Kate Facchina said.
All of the hard work the sisters have put in during their time at OSU was evident March 9 when, for the first time in their career, the Buckeyes defeated Northwestern, who won seven national championships in an eight-year span from 2005-2012.
Cara said losing close games to the Wildcats in the past was tough, so to finally beat them, and in Ohio Stadium no less, was a moment she would never forget.
“That was definitely one of the top moments for my college career,” Cara Facchina said. “That’s always been our goal. Every year we’ve played them very tight, it’s always been a one or two goal game. So it was nice, in my last year, to finally be able to pull it out.”
Still, with Cara set to graduate in December with a degree in industrial and systems engineering, this will be the last season the sisters will wear an OSU jersey together.
Mary Kate said she still remembers being a freshman and how having Cara on campus helped her ease her way into becoming the player she is today.
“I always say if I didn’t have her pushing me in the summers and before I even came here to do the workout packet, I would’ve struggled,” Mary Kate Facchina said. “It’s a lot better having somebody there to push you, especially since she could help me understand what to expect coming here.”
However, with four games still remaining in the regular season, the No. 17 Buckeyes (9-4, 2-1) are looking to make a run at the American Lacrosse Conference championship, as well as the NCAA tournament.
“We know we have the ability to take the whole ALC tournament, we just have to put our minds to it,” Mary Kate Facchina said.
No matter where the sisters end up, whether it be at Northrop Grumman — Cara has an internship there this summer — or in a classroom as Mary Kate is an early childhood education major, both sisters know they will always be there to support each other, and with a smile.