With the departure of last year’s entire starting attack, Hood senior Joey O’Hara has a prime opportunity to insert himself as a starter. And he’s trying to do it on one leg.
O’Hara tore the anterior cruciate ligament in one knee last summer, and it’s the same ligament that he strained as a sophomore. He returned last March and finished the season tied for third on the team in goals with 11.
Coach Jeremy Mattoon said he would love to slow O’Hara’s return and ease him back onto the field, but this is the last year of O’Hara’s eligibility.
“[T]his is it. For O’Hara, this is his last opportunity to play,” Mattoon said. “Either he plays this semester or he hangs it up. He’s playing on two bad knees. He’s got a torn ACL in one knee and no meniscus in the other – hence the reason why we moved him from midfield to attack. But he’s got a good stick and can shoot the ball. He’s a Division II player. He came from Catawba, and he’s a good ball player. We’re working with him and trying to teach him how to be a good attackman.”
O’Hara is still rehabbing his surgically-repaired knee and trying to regain full mobility, but he’s also participating in practice on a limited basis.
“He hasn’t been cleared for full go,” Mattoon aid. “He practices probably about 50 percent of the practice. But we’ll have him for the first game.”
The season opener at Catholic is just 10 days away. Can O’Hara really improve in such a short period of time?
“I expect him to be on the field for the first game. That’s me,” Mattoon said. “But we’ll see what the trainer says. But he’s out there for about 50 percent of practice. He’s not doing a lot of cutting, but he’s out there. He’s in the mix.”