Saving One More Season: McCarthy Has Overcome A Slew Of Injuries To Have A Career Year For UMass
March 30, 2007
Perseverance is a word that is thrown around a little too often in athletics. However, when you think of a word to describe UMass Amherst goalkeeper Lauren McCarthy, there isn't another that seems to fit.
Suffering from a malalignment condition in her knee, the former Pinkerton Academy standout has endured five knee operations throughout her lacrosse career. Although difficult, the surgeries never seemed to be a setback for the UMass starting senior.
"I had a condition in my knee where your shin bone grows faster than the rest of your knee," she said. "So what happens is you end up with, in essence, a bump because the bone grows too fast. My first surgery was because that bump broke.
"I ended up with the malalignment where my knee would pop in-and-out of place anytime it was positioned wrong. All of the surgeries, in some way or another, were related to trying to help fix that condition."
She certainly hasn't let it stop her. McCarthy is in the midst of a career year with the Minutemen. She boasts a strong .467 save percentage and a 9.74 goals-against-average this season. The goals-against-average is easily the best of her career and 2.26 goals a game lower than last year's.
"I knew of her injury history when I took the job here," said first-year head coach Alexis Venechanos, whose club is 5-5 this season. "I told her right away that the past is behind her and that she could only look toward the future. She has done a great job just taking each day for what it's worth.
"I didn't treat her as an injured player and that definitely helped out with her psyche. If you think you are injured, then you are injured. It becomes a mind over matter situation."
The Derry native was making a name for herself before she ever set foot on the UMass campus. While still a senior Pinkerton, she was named All-State in New Hampshire. She also spent the two winters after her sophomore and junior seasons playing indoor lacrosse with the varsity boys team to keep in shape.
Her first game at UMass' Garber Field wasn't even with the Minutemen, it was while she was still with Pinkerton when she played in the North-South All-Star game her senior year.
The career-best numbers McCarthy has posted this season, which include wins over 16th-ranked Boston University and Boston College, can be partially credited to the coaching that Venechanos brings to the UMass program. Just 26, she was an All-American goalkeeper for Maryland, where she won national championships in 2000 and 2001.
"It definitely helps having someone that knows what you're going through in the net," said the 5-foot-3 McCarthy. "When you give up a goal, or even if you are playing well, she can give me a different perspective and she knows because she's been there. She knows what it feels like to struggle and she knows what it feels like to have success. You don't always have that if the coach has never been a goalkeeper before."
While Venechanos was the one doing the pushing, the coach is quick to point out that it was McCarthy doing the working.
"She is a lot more confident," the coach said. "It helps that because of the redshirt and this being her fifth year, she is one of the most experienced goalkeepers in the nation. She has seen everything so she does a good job making saves to keep us in games and that helps her confidence. The goalie position is extremely mental - you can only teach someone so much."
Reddy making her mark
Sophomore midfielder Meghan Reddy of Salem has started all nine games. She has scored seven goals and two assists. Reddy, who was an Eagle-Tribune All-Star goalie in soccer for the Blue Devils, had the hat trick against Harvard on March 3. Last spring she netted 12 goals.
Andover High senior Lindsay Hegarty will be joining the fold next year. She scored 33 goals with 15 assists as an all-conference midfielder last year.
The McCarthy File
By Mike McMahon, Eagle Tribune Staff Writer