By Tommy Cassell – Worcester Telegram & Gazette
September 28, 2023 | Original Story HERE
Kate Crowley was looking through photos on her iPhone Tuesday when a memory from a year ago popped up on her Snapchat app.
“It was a picture of me when I went to the hospital with my dad,” Crowley said. “I was like ‘Oh my gosh, that’s so weird. That was a year ago today.’ ”
In a soccer game against Nipmuc on Sept. 26, 2022, Crowley was dribbling the ball upfield when an opposing player made contact with the Whitinsville Christian soccer star, causing Crowley to crumple to the ground.
She tore the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in her left knee.
“I was screaming and crying because I never felt that pain before. Usually when I fall, I can get back up,” Crowley, 17, said. “I could not get up. I had to be carted off the field.”
Following a trip to the hospital, surgery and lengthy rehab process — that included learning how to walk again — Crowley returned to the pitch this fall. The Whitinsville Christian center midfielder and former All-State selection started on a minutes restriction before shedding that limitation in a 2-0 win over Nipmuc on Sept. 16.
On Wednesday, Crowley and the Crusaders (8-1) suffered their first loss of the season in a 2-0 defeat to Nipmuc.
For all her ups and downs over the past year, Crowley is happy to be back on the pitch for her last hurrah of high school soccer.
“I’m just proud of how I dealt with everything and where I am now,” Crowley said. “To come back together — and especially me coming back this year being able to play for our senior year — there’s just a special energy going on for us right now.”
Also on the comeback trail
Whitinsville Christian junior Scarlett Shaw was playing club soccer four years ago when she broke her leg. It was a devastating injury that kept her away from the game for a few years. Shaw attempted to comeback last fall as a sophomore for the Crusaders but suffered a non-contact ACL tear in her knee in the first minute of their first scrimmage.
After an extensive rehab process, Shaw, like Crowley, made her comeback to the pitch this season.
“When both Kate and Scarlett returned to playing this year, it was the best day (of) coaching for me,” Whitinsville Christian soccer coach Beth Cutler said. “I’m so proud of them both.”
The little engine that could
A pre-K through 12th-grade Christian day school in Northbridge, Whitinsville Christian has roughly 50 students in each grade.
Even with the small school size, the Whitinsville Christian girls’ soccer program has been strong over the years. Last fall, the Crusaders made a run to the Division 5 state semifinals.
And so far this season, Whitinsville Christian — with just 19 players — has picked up right where it left off.
“We do a lot with what we have,” Cutler said. “Our kids work really, really hard. That’s a testament to the kids.”
Through nine games, the Crusaders have outscored opponents, 38-6, and sit atop the Dual Valley Conference. Heading into Wednesday’s action, Whitinsville Christian senior winger Hannah Lashley (14 goals, 7 assists) was tied with Doherty’s Brigid Murphy for the Central Mass. scoring lead.
“Her one-on-one skills are exceptional, but her passing has been terrific this year,” Cutler said of Lashley. “She shares the ball, she sucks (defenders in) and that’s made all the difference for our team.”
Senior captains Margaret Johnson and Meadow O’Connell, juniors Gillian McGee and Amanda Cinelli, and sophomore keeper Maddi Amati also have stepped up for the Crusaders this fall in what has been a true team-wide effort, according to Cutler.
“It’s just a fun team to coach, it really is,” Cutler said. “I don’t think we’ve reached our potential yet at all. They have a lot more, they’re a very talented team. A very talented team.”
— Contact Tommy Cassell at email@example.com. Follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter, @tommycassell44.