Lizzie Colson isn’t ready for her lacrosse career to come to a halt just yet.
Colson, a redshirt senior defender at University of Maryland, was participating in a three-day training session with the United States National Women’s Lacrosse Team last June when she suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee during an attempt to recover a ground ball after a draw control.
It happened in the final scrimmage on the last day of the training session, she said.
“It was heartbreaking,” Colson said. “It’s crazy because it came at such a late time in my career so it’s just another thing. I honestly contemplated if I was just done. It wasn’t like I was going into my freshman year of college, I was going into my senior year, so I felt like maybe I could just be done, but I wasn’t ready or willing to accept that.”
The average recovery period for a torn ACL is nine months to a year for an athlete to return to their normal condition, pre-injury. This raised some questions for Colson, considering the timeline with which she was given.
Could she rush her recovery process and heal in time for her senior season or sit out, take time to recover, and return to Maryland for a fifth year?
Colson decided to redshirt and said she’s glad she did because she re-injured her knee in January and had a second surgery to remove scar tissue that added an additional six weeks to her recovery.
“Had I not redshirted, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything this year and it kind of worked out,” Colson said. “It’s been a huge learning experience and a huge growth for me because I’ve always had that leadership role on the field. I’ve never really had to take a leader role off the field and I think that’s something I will take forward with me in life outside of lacrosse.”
The former Manchester Valley High School standout and three-time Times Girls Lacrosse Player of the Year helped lead the Mavericks to three straight state championships from 2014 to 2016.
She set the Carroll County single-season record with 108 goals as a senior in 2016 and finished her career with 396 goals and 220 draw controls.
Colson played midfield and attack in high school, but was moved to defense her freshman year at Maryland. She made 20 appearances on defense with three starts and totaled 16 ground balls and 26 draw controls.
“I had a great veteran defensive unit to show me the ways and I think that my teammates around me helped me transition from one spot to another,” Colson said. “It really taught me what it’s like to focus defensively versus offensively and my play in high school being a middie and an attacker helped me so much on the defensive end because I can read the attack a little better and understand those concepts.”
Colson earned a starting role as a sophomore and was the Terps’ leader with 39 ground balls and 23 caused turnovers. She finished her junior season second to teammate Kali Hartshorn with 127 draw controls, led the team with 45 ground balls, and was second with 25 caused turnovers.
The Terps defeated Boston College 12-10 last year to capture their 19th national championship and Colson delivered with four ground balls, seven draw controls, and two caused turnovers.
Man Valley girls lacrosse coach Shelly Brezicki coached Colson for her entire high school career and said Colson is capable of playing anywhere on the field.
“She was pivotal for us on both ends of the field at midfield and she has taken that role and become a phenomenal defender at the collegiate level,” Brezicki said. “She’s a hard worker and anything that’s put in front of her she is going to work to try and be the best at.”
Maryland (3-3) will be the reigning national champions for another year since the remainder of the 2020 season was cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The NCAA announced March 30 that spring-sport athletes would get an eligibility extension and the chance for an additional season of competition.
Colson said she plans to play this fall to be ready for the 2021 spring season, coming off her redshirt status, but an additional year on top of that is still up in the air.
“It’s really opened my eyes to the mental health aspect of the sport and having something take from you that you identify so heavily with, it really takes a toll on you,” Colson said. “This is my first time dealing with such an intense injury so I think it’s the biggest learning experience. As horrible as it was, I’ve learned so much as a person because of it.”