Carolyn Jamison and Megan Pettine have plenty in common.
They're Westminster girls lacrosse teammates. They're both juniors. They both play attack for the Owls.
And they both wear braces on their right knee, a symbol of their journey back from significant injuries that took place a year ago.
Jamison tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee playing against Winters Mill on April 26, 2011. The Owls won the game, 17-6, but lost one of their offensive weapons for the rest of the season.
Westminster reached the Class 4A-3A state title game undefeated before losing to Severna Park 14-7. All the while Jamison watched from the sideline and vowed to be back healthy for her junior year.
"That's always been my biggest fear, to tear my ACL," she said. "My motivation was definitely just to get back. That's all I wanted to do. You have to tell yourself, 'I'm fine.' It definitely took a couple games to have that confidence. And even in practice, it was finally like, 'Oh, I'm fine. I can go to goal now.' It's such a mental thing."
Jamison is a big reason why Westminster (9-4) is the No. 2 seed in 4A-3A North as the regional playoffs begin Wednesday. The Owls have a first-round bye and will play a quarterfinal game Friday.
Jamison has 40 goals, second most on the team, and 24 assists so far this spring. She tallied 38 goals and 15 assists last year despite missing the postseason.
Pettine watched her teammate go down against Winters Mill, then had the same thing happen to her in a club game two months later. Pettine said she jumped trying for a loose ball near the goal and went down in a heap.
"My first thought was, 'Oh my gosh, Carolyn. I just tore my ACL," Pettine said. "The first thing I thought about was her. I came out to the sideline, but I felt completely fine. I guess it was just adrenaline."
Pettine said she stayed loose off the field and returned to the action, only to collapse a few minutes later trying to play defense.
For Pettine, it meant a torn meniscus along with her ACL tear.
Like her lacrosse teammate, Pettine was driven to return to varsity sports. She made it back for the end of basketball season and said she felt strong enough to get back to lacrosse.
It didn't hurt that Pettine's dad is Mike Pettine, a longtime NFL coach and current defensive coordinator for the New York Jets. Megan said rehabilitating three times a week, with the guidance of a pro football team's training staff, allowed her to stay on track and ahead of schedule.
Pettine was able to play basketball at the end of the winter season, which helped her ease into lacrosse and get used to a bulky knee brace.
The outer wear hasn't slowed Pettine. She has 25 goals and 21 assists this season, teaming with Jamison and senior midfielder Meghan Macera (60 goals) to create a potent offense for the Owls.
Westminster coach Jackie Stevens said she wasn't concerned about her players' physical status.
"They're half of our offense. They definitely make a difference," Stevens said. "It was more mental, them trying to come back and be ready. After a couple games, they realized that they were healthy and it would be fine."
Jamison said she went through physical therapy every other day before her knee surgery as a way to speed up the process. And she's not too surprised at how well she and her teammate are playing a year after their major injuries.
Jamison said she's verbally committed to the University of Maryland; Pettine hasn't decided yet but lists Connecticut as her top choice.
At times they're hesitant when it comes to planting a right foot on defense or cutting across the crease, but Jamison and Pettine are back on the field for Westminster, doing what they love.
"It took a lot of work to get back to where we are," Jamison said. "But I feel like we're the same players we were before. It's all coming back, and every game gets us closer to feeling healthy."