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Emma Burke did a little bit of everything, tallying 49 goals, 32 assists, 58 ground balls and 41 caused turnovers to go with her 164 draw controls.

Midwest Girls' Player of the Year Emma Burke Delivers Wherever She's Needed

June 29, 2023
Jonah Rosenblum
Loyola Academy

Burke, a junior committed to Michigan, led Loyola Academy to a state title.

After recording a whopping 164 draw controls for Loyola Academy this season, Emma Burke has a slight confession to make.

“I’ve never been a huge fan of the draw.”

Well, of taking the draw anyway.

That’s right. Burke, who had the most draws in a season for the Ramblers since Brennan Dwyer in 2017, didn’t necessarily want to be in the circle. The Michigan commit preferred being on the edge of the circle, scrapping for the balls that Maeve Dwyer sent her way the past two years. Still, Loyola needed Burke in the circle.

So, she delivered.

Burke had two things going her way. One was her unbelievable competitive fire.

“She’s literally the hardest working kid in our program,” Ramblers coach John Dwyer said. “If you just come to any practice, you’ll see [she is] the one kid [who] is going full speed in every drill.”

Two is that Brennan Dwyer was there coaching her.

“The intelligence and the level of questions that she asks Brennan and obviously the input that she gets back from her, just it’s an amazing amount of knowledge that passes back and forth,” John Dwyer said. “The two of them spend a lot of time together every day, and as the season went on, it showed more and more and more and more.”

As a junior, Burke did a little bit of everything, tallying 49 goals, 32 assists, 58 ground balls and 41 caused turnovers to go with her 164 draw controls. The scoring numbers, if anything, don’t represent Burke’s true talent, as the selfless junior often opted to pass instead of shoot.

Still, in the Ramblers’ biggest games, Burke found the back of the net. That included scoring three of Loyola’s eight goals in an 8-5 sectional title game win over rival New Trier. That victory avenged last year’s postseason loss to the Trevians, sending the Ramblers on their way to a state championship.

Emma Burke is the USA Lacrosse Midwest Girls’ Player of the Year.

“Last year, what we thought we could have won and should have won, it was taken away from us,” Burke said. “So, we wanted to prove people wrong, and I feel like that aspect of it really pushed us to go harder in practice, which made us better for games.”

Dwyer noted that Burke’s competitive fire has a clear origin. Her oldest sibling, Jack, excelled in numerous sports for the Loyola Academy, then went on to play hockey at the Naval Academy. Her older sister, Annabelle, starred for the Ramblers girls’ lacrosse team and is currently playing for Michigan. Another older sister, Catherine, is a 6-3 volleyball player headed to Penn State. Burke also has two younger sisters who are heavily involved in sports. Competition, quite simply, is in her DNA.

“I think it’s because I come from a really big family,” Burke said. “I have five other siblings. I’ve always been super competitive. So, I feel like every day, I just go into practice wanting to compete with my teammates and make it a fun competition, because I feel like when I am competitive, it makes practice more fun and then it just ends up making me better.”

That competitive fire stood out right away when Burke earned an immediate starting role on defense for the Ramblers as a freshman. A midfielder entering high school, she first stood out on the defensive end for a loaded team, impressing an assistant coach with her intense pressure.

“I think I did that a lot because I wanted to prove myself because, again, I’m super competitive and my sister had just graduated and she [had] a huge role on the team,” Burke said. “I just wanted to make a name for myself instead of just people comparing me to her, so I feel like I just went out really aggressive, which helped me a lot on defense.”

As much as she enjoyed playing defense as a freshman, Burke missed playing both ends of the field and getting to celebrate after goals, so she worked hard to improve her offensive game. She was rewarded as a sophomore with the chance to return to the midfield. She remained in the midfield this season and delivered in several ways to help the team to the state title.

And when the Ramblers need Burke to step up more as a scorer next year, following the graduation of leading scorers like Eileen Dooley and Riley Jenkins, expect Burke to excel at that as well.

“The last two years, she’s worked a lot on her offensive end of the game and her shooting and her eight meters and all those things,” Dwyer said. “If she’s healthy the whole year, those goal numbers are going to be up substantially next year because that’s just the type of kid she is. That’s the last part of her game that she really, really wants to improve on before she goes off to Michigan.”