Lyric Feingold-Conaway had a 50 percent chance of losing half of her right leg after suffering a gruesome injury to her knee almost seven years ago.
Feingold-Conaway, a 2016 Winters Mill grad, was going after a loose ball in a college showcase soccer tournament in May 2013 when she collided with the opposing team’s goalie and tore just about every ligament in her knee. She didn’t break any bones, but the doctors were nervous the dislocations would keep blood from flowing to her feet.
Had the injury been any worse, it could have completely cut off the blood flow and led to a potential amputation. It took multiple surgeries and months of rehabilitation for Feingold-Conaway to make a full recovery.
“It’s kind of crazy to think about it. From all the surgeries, I garnered this part of my life — that’s dedication,” Feingold-Conaway said. “From that, all the surgeons telling me I probably wouldn’t play sports anymore, everybody tells me I can’t. Now looking into it, it moved with me into playing college lacrosse.
“I was dedicated. Every year I worked harder and harder to get better and better.”
Feingold-Conaway made a full recovery by February 2015, her freshman year of college at Shepherd University in West Virginia. Rams coach Jenny Miller, a 2010 Westminster grad, let her try out as a walk-on during her sophomore year and she made an immediate impact on defense.
“After one day I was already impressed with her,” Miller said. “She led the defense in her first season on the field and she doesn’t always get a crazy amount of stats, but she is by far our best defender on the field. She just showed leadership from the very beginning, and me kind of having knowledge of her back story — where she came from and who she played for — it kind of set in stone that she was going to be a great player.”
Feingold-Conaway appeared and started in all 18 games for the Rams in 2017. She earned all-Mountain East Conference honorable mention honors and recorded 31 ground balls, a team-best 18 caused turnovers and a pair of draw controls. Her junior year was more of the same and she finished with 35 ground balls, 11 caused turnovers and two draw controls.
She dominated in 2019 and earned MEC Defensive Player of the Year and first team all-MEC honors as well. She collected 39 ground balls, 24 caused turnovers and 23 draw controls and posted a career-high nine ground balls and nine caused turnovers against University of Virginia’s College at Wise.
“The girls on our team made it severely special for me,” Feingold-Conaway said. “We had a very large incoming freshmen class that year and they really made me step up and really work hard to be where I’m at, and my coaching staff really put in their effort to make us the best team we could be.”
The Rams went 11-7 last spring and finished conference play with an 8-2 record. Shepherd qualified for the MEC Tournament for the fifth straight season and Feingold-Conaway’s teammate Lillian Funke earned MEC Offensive Player of the Year. Miller was awarded MEC Coach of the Year honors as well.
Before the injury, Feingold-Conaway played for former Falcons coach Courtney Vaughn and helped the team capture a state championship in 2013. It was the team’s third title in four seasons and she said her experience molded her into the lacrosse player she is today.
“That was a crazy experience and I learned a lot from her,” Feingold-Conaway said. “I really appreciated it. The two years I did get to play while I was at Winters Mill were very precious for me. I look back on it and you think you take advantage of things while you’re doing it and you look back and wish you hadn’t.
“I want to go to grad school and Shepherd unfortunately doesn’t offer any programs I want to go to,” she said. “I’m so dedicated to them that I won’t play for any other school. They gave me that second chance and I can never repay them for it.”