The 2014 UNC women’s lacrosse soccer season was littered with injuries. To start the year, Brittney Coppa went down with a torn ACL. This happened in a preseason game against Team USA so Coppa was able to redshirt what would have been her senior season. Prior to the season, Sammy Jo Tracy had lingering issues with her ankle. This combination is what gave UNC their first national championship at the end of the 2013 season. The Coppa pass to Tracy is something that will never be forgotten as Tracy bounced the game winning shot past the Maryland goalie.
Losing Coppa and Tracy to injury would have devastated any team. Unfortunately, the injuries did not stop there. Kelly Devlin played an integral part in the Tar Heels march through the 2013 NCAA Tournament. This was a surprise to many as she did not have a major impact on the regular season. Devlin was unavailable for Jenny Levy in 2014 as she suffered an ACL injury in practice. Sophie McCoy injured her leg in practice as she took a redshirt year. McCoy was a freshman that was likely to take a redshirt year anyway.
As the 2014 season came to a close Alyssa Andress suffered a torn ACL ending her sophomore year. One of the most difficult injuries for the Tar Heels came in the ACC Tournament when National Freshman of the Year Sydney Holman went down with a torn ACL. Holman was a very important part of the Tar Heels attack. When Holman went down at the end of the Boston College game the writing was on the wall for this Tar Heel squad.
All six players that were hurt while playing lacrosse at the college level. While none of these young women retained a personal injury lawyer it brings into question what the parents are thinking. Many of these young women come from well to do families and their fathers cannot enjoy seeing them in agony on the field. Women’s lacrosse is a very taxing sport on the body as they are dodging, weaving and avoiding checks during the entire game. There are many games in which players will put themselves in compromised situations.
While many Tar Heel fans still had hope they could make a run to the Final Four and defend their national title it was something that was highly unlikely. Coppa, Tracy, Holman and Devlin would likely be All-ACC performers and they would start on any team in the nation not named Maryland or Syracuse. As these injured Tar Heels looked on, The Virginia Cavaliers came into Chapel Hill and ended the 2014 season. It was a season of what could have been. Unfortunately, we will never know. Here is the Sydney Holman Out for Season article announcing her injury
Maryland went on to win the national championship. A semi healthy UNC team dominated Maryland in Chapel Hill earlier in the season. At one point UNC was beating Maryland by eight goals in the game at Fetzer Field. The Maryland victory was the last shining moment for the Tar Heel team as they struggled tremendously down the stretch. The Tar Heels downfall started with a very poorly organized trip to Chicago to take on Northwestern. The game at Northwestern was difficult to watch at the Tar Heels only had a handful of substitutes due to a mix up in flights.
While no one truly knows what would have happened I can say this. The team that started the 2014 season with a massacre of the University of Florida was not the same team that finished the season. It will be interesting to see how this young team adjusts heading into 2015. Coppa, Tracy, Devlin and Holman will be back and the team will likely be ranked in the top 10. It will be quite difficult to dethrone Maryland but if any team can do it it would be a healthy UNC squad.
Injuries are very common on college sports but it seems to be rampant in women’s lacrosse. The sport is just physical enough that it is a cause for concern. I personally feel as if some of the rules should let the girls be a little more physical as this would take away some of the injuries. If the officials would not blow the whistle every 15 seconds the young women could get in more of a groove rather than having to stop and start consistently. This stopping and starting is not healthy for their growing bodies. While a personal injury lawyer or medical professional might be concerned most of the girls that play say they absolutely love the way the sport is played.
One injury that some people do not think about in women’s lacrosse is a head or mouth injury. College athletes wear mouthpieces but this does not mean getting hit with a lacrosse stick or ball will not jar some teeth. Fortunately, the UNC School of Dentistry is just around the corner so a number of UNC players can get a quick fix when it comes to broken teeth.
College coaches, especially in the ACC, struggle to find the happy balance of practice and game time. Teams like UNC, Maryland and Syracuse are head and shoulders above most of their competition so the competition in practice is often more fierce than on game day. This type of competition in practice is what leads to injuries. In 2013, Caileigh Sindall suffered a concussion during practice. She is a very aggressive player and I could see where practice against other All Americans could bring out the most competitive part of her game. Having watched Sindall for two years, I can honestly say that 99% of the time during the game she is not in a position to suffer from a concussion.
Running head first into another college athlete can be damaging on the body. Even if the head is not concussed there are other spinal cord injuries or broken bones. With this in mind, coaches and players may have to adjust their style of play until the win-loss record is on the line. Even when the win-loss record is on the line it might be best to tone it down a notch because there is a very long life to life after the college years.
Can UNC Reach the Final Four in 2015?
Yes. The answer is yes. UNC will be one of the most talented teams in 2015 with several of their current players being on the US National Team. With Maggie Bill, Sydney Holman, Carly Reed and Molly Hendrick now having a year of experience under their belt it is time for this #1 recruiting class to get much more aggressive in 2014. While Bill should signs of brilliance in 2014 there were many games in which I would have like to seen her take matters in to her own hands. She is more skilled than Kara Cannizzaro but Kara knew when to go directly to the goal and take a shot.
Bill had amazing moves, is always the fastest player on the field and has the ability to get to the offensive side of the field but she lacks the confidence to dodge and get straight to the goal. When she realizes she is better than everyone else on the field she will be a dominant player for the Tar Heels. Bill, Holman and Reed all have the ability to score a hat trick on any given night. There are many moments of greatness for Carly Reed during the 2014 season but she disappeared at times. Now that Abbey Friend has graduated I would imagine the attackers for UNC in 2015 will be Reed, Holman and Coppa. Coppa might play midfield but UNC is stacked at that position with Sammy Jo Tracy, Molly Hendrick, Maggie Bill and Sarah Scott all vying for time. Here is an interesting prediction about Maggie Bill’s college career.
It would not surprise me to see Jenny Levy rotate middies in and out depending on the situation of the game. She did this during much of the 2014 season with Sarah Scott being on the field for a draw control but running off if UNC gained position. The player that often replaced her was Carly Reed. As we get closer to the 2015 season we will have to see how Sammy Jo Tracy plays into all of this. As a freshman, in 2013, Tracy started every game in which she was healthy. She was also the one that took the majority of the draws.
Does Height Affect ACL, MCL and PCL Tears?
Injuries related to the knee can be devastating to a young athlete. Torn ACL, MCL and PCL’s have caused some athletes to put a stop to their career. In 2014, of the five UNC athletes that have season ending injuries five were related to knee injuries. All five of these young women were over 5’8″ with two being over 6’2″. This makes me wonder if height has anything to do with these types of knee injuries. The one “shorter” girl on the team that had a season ending injury was an ankle injury.
As stated earlier, personal injury lawyers often research the reasons behind some of these injuries. Some lawyers find out that the injuries are due to the negligence of a coach or another individual. if these types of injuries greatly affect the outcome of a young woman’s life some lawyers will be able to seek compensation in the form of a settlement check. This would be a very interesting situation as women’s lacrosse is not a lucrative sport in the United States. That said, even if these young women had never planned on playing professionally they may very well not be able to do some of the normal activities in life again.
Simply running, jogging or walking through campus is not possible after ACL surgery. Anyone that has had to recover from this type of surgery knows that it can takes years to recover. While at UNC or any major university, the university will pay for all the medical bills and the surgery. Once these young women graduate and walk of UNC’s campus they will have to foot the bill for any future surgeries or rehabilitation sessions. This has been a very hot topic of debate as to whether college athletes should be paid. If they are getting free healthcare this is a cost that would be thousands for the common American. That said, they are putting their bodies at risk every single day they are an athlete.
Those that are truly putting their bodies at risk are the taller girls that are playing women’s lacrosse. Alyssa Andress and Sophie McCoy are both over 6’2″ and they suffered season ending knee injuries. Brittney Coppa is definitely one of the taller girls on the UNC roster and she lost her senior season due to a knee injury. She will have an opportunity to play that senior season one year later and it will be interesting to see how she runs and dodges after rehab.
Both Kelly Devlin and Sydney Holman are around 5’8″ which is above average for a female. Although it may be complete coincidence it must be pointed out that the tallest girls on the team are the one’s that suffered knee injuries. To play devil’s advocate it may very well be the case that it is the position they play as well. Coppa, Devlin and Andress are midfielders and McCoy and Holman are attackers. These are lacrosse positions in which the girls are attacking and not defending.
Interestingly, most of the UNC defenders are under 5’6″ and none of them went down to a torn ACL, MCL or PCL during the 2014 season. Please understand that the height of the player will often determine her place on the field. Most of the defenders have to stay in a squat position while the attackers approach them. It makes sense that they would need to be shorter and close to the ground. UNC has had some amazing defenders over the last several years and some of the best were not as tall as the midfielders and attackers. In 2013, Caileigh Sindall went down to injury but the defender suffered a concussion and not a torn ACL, MCL or PCL. More here: Caileigh Sindall Out with Concussion.
As the sport of lacrosse continues to get more popular throughout the United States it will be interesting to see the differences in height depending on position. In the past, players that were athletic were simply thrust onto the field because there were not a ton of girls playing lacrosse. Now that young girls want to play lacrosse the selection of players will determine where they are on the field. It is unlikely we will see a defender that is over six feet tall anytime in the future because there are plenty of other females that are shorter that would be better for the backside defense.
Can Maryland Stay Healthy in 2015?
Heading into the 2014 season the UNC Tar Heels looked like they were going to walk into the Final Four and likely into the championship game. They started the season on a tear winning their first several game by double digits. The defense was stout, giving up less than 10 goals a game during the entire first half of the season. When the injuries started to set in around the middle of the season cause the Tar Heels to struggle. This is not a surprise as depth can be important in the game of lacrosse.
The University of Maryland went on to dominate the 2015 NCAA Tournament. They won the championship game by three goals but it was never that close. The Terps were up the whole game and Taylor Cummings dominated the draw controls. In all reality, Taylor Cummings won the national championship for the Terps. She dominated the draw during the entire year which allowed the Terps to roll through their competition. The only loss for the Terps came in Chapel Hill to the Tar Heels and it was the one game in which Cummings did not dominate.
Draw controls are so very important in the game of women’s lacrosse. If Cummings and the other middies at Maryland can stay healthy in 2015 they will be the odds on favorite to not only get to the championship game but win it as well. A game I would love to see is the Terps vs the Tar Heels for all the marbles. If both teams are healthy it could be one of the best games in the history of women’s lacrosse. When the Terps met the Tar Heels in 2013 for the national championship it was a triple overtime thriller. Most would agree that it was the best game in women’s lacrosse history.
We can only hope that both Maryland and UNC stay healthy in 2015. If you are looking at talent alone these teams are head and shoulder above everyone else. Some would argue that Syracuse is a talented team but they will have lost several seniors from the 2014 squad. While the Tar Heels will have to find a way to replace Abbey Friend, Taylor George and Sloan Serpe they have extremely talented underclassman that now have experience.
The most interesting aspect of this game will be a healthy Sammy Jo Tracy taking draws against Taylor Cummings. There were times in the 2013 season in which Brittney Coppa took draws as well. With both of these experienced young women coming back in 2015 it will be the case that the Tar Heels are a top 5 team. It the Tar Heels can find a way to beat the Syracuse Orange they will be a shoe in for the national championship game.
Injuries are so very important in the game of women’s lacrosse so let’s hope that both teams can remain healthy throughout the summer and fall ball. I would imagine the fall ball schedule will be released in the next few weeks so that is something to look forward to.