Lehigh women's lacrosse junior midfielder Casey O'Connor (right) defends against first-year defender Brynn Freeman (left) at practice. The women's lacrosse team face Colgate on April 20 in Hamilton, New York. (Courtesy Lehigh Sports)

Lehigh women’s lacrosse junior leads in spite of injuries


Recovering from her second ACL tear, Lehigh women’s lacrosse junior midfielder Casey O’Connor has high hopes for her team while she waits to return to play. 

After tearing her ACL for the second time and recently undergoing a third knee surgery in October, O’Connor will not be returning to the field this season and will remain in recovery until she is cleared.

The past two years, O’Connor was named to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll.

While she focuses on her academics, she’s also cheering her teammates on through it all.

“Having a positive impact from the sideline really helps me to convince myself that I’m contributing to the team, even if I’m not getting ground balls or scoring goals,” O’Connor said.

Her teammates agree that even from the bench, O’Connor has a positive energy. 

Junior midfielder Quinn Meyer said O’Connor is a great teammate and friend.  

“She’s able to make an impact off the field, even though she’s not actually participating in the game, which I think says a lot about a person,” Meyer said. 

Originally from Springfield, Pennsylvania, O’Connor has played lacrosse for almost all of her life.

She chose Lehigh for both its business program and historically successful lacrosse program.

O’Connor first tore her ACL during her senior year of high school and tore it again this past fall. She said that both injuries were heartbreaking experiences.

After being injured twice, O’Connor is focused on completing a full recovery.

“When an athlete goes through a traumatic injury, they do everything in their ability to prevent it from happening again,” O’Connor said. “Luck wasn’t on my side in this case, but I am lucky enough to have such caring teammates who support me through every obstacle.”

O’Connor said the athletic training department at Lehigh has helped her during the rehabilitation process. 

She lifts with the team’s strength and conditioning coach twice a week and undergoes physical therapy during practices at Taylor Gym. 

“Her work ethic has been phenomenal,” Eric Markovcy, the women’s lacrosse strength and conditioning coach, said. “She has been communicating with me and repeatedly banging down the door trying to get extra sessions in, which is awesome.”  

Markovcy said that during the team’s fall training season, the players showed physical gains, but they also demonstrated improvement in the intangible areas of mental toughness and resilience. 

“Those are the things that determine success,” Markovcy said. “This is a unit that cares and shows grit and I think that alone is going to put them in contention to be extremely successful.”

O’Connor said the demanding part of her weekly rehabilitation schedule is time management with extra lift sessions, physical therapy appointments, along with attending regular classes and practices. 

Despite the scheduling difficulties, O’Connor finds a way to make it work.

The team made it to the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament in 2023. Although O’Connor will not be playing this spring, she has a special feeling about the 2024 Patriot League season.

“We’re always a top competitor in the Patriot League, and I think we have the capabilities every year to succeed,” Meyer said. “This year, we have a lot of experience and skilled players, and it’s just a matter of putting it all together.”

Although it’s still early in the season, the team is confident in its skills and is prepared for the tough, competitive games that lie ahead. O’Connor said that every player genuinely wants to do their best and win. 

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