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Women's Lacrosse: 'Tough as nails' Cannon has put ACL tears behind her

Women's Lacrosse: 'Tough as nails' Cannon has put ACL tears behind her

For the better part of two years, Kristen Cannon's focus wasn't on lacrosse.

It couldn't be. She had to focus on rehabilitation for her left knee. And then she had to do it all over again.

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During her senior year at Manchester Valley in 2012, Cannon tore the ACL in her left knee during basketball season and had to miss her senior year of lacrosse. A year later, she re-tore that same ACL before ever playing in a game her freshman season at Johns Hopkins.

Cannon just wanted to get through the 2014 season. And now this year, the former Mavericks standout is back to the type of player she was her first three years of high school when she tallied 136 goals and 87 assists.

"Last year, having made it through my first season in one piece, I think that definitely helped getting some experience under my belt," Cannon said, "and now being more worried about the game and less about my knee and my body, about producing and actually being an impact player this year."

That has certainly been the case, as Cannon is the team's second-leading scorer with 17 points and has helped the No. 19-ranked Blue Jays jump out to a 6-2 start.

Cannon has tallied 11 goals and six assists. But it wasn't just her scoring ability that impressed Hopkins coach Janine Tucker when she was recruiting Cannon more than three years ago.

"One of the best qualities that Kristen possessed was how hard-nosed she was," Tucker said. "She is just tough as nails."

That attribute was one that Tucker said helped Cannon get through her pair of ACL tears and all of the work that went into getting back onto the lacrosse field.

In 2014, Cannon played in 20 games, starting three, and recorded five goals and an assist. Not quite the numbers Cannon had traditionally put up, but it was a year that helped her return to that prolific level.

"What's it done is because she's back at full-strength, she worked so hard to get herself back to 100-percent healthy, her confidence is just through the roof," Tucker said. "She is just so confident right now and I think a lot of that's because she's got her legs under her."

The Blue Jays split their first four games before entering a home contest against American on March 2. Hopkins held a 7-2 lead at halftime, but the Eagles struck first in the second half to keep it close.

Cannon then capped off a career day to put away American. She scored a free-position goal that sparked a 9-0 run for the Jays, as she finished with five points on a trio of goals and pair of assists.

"The first 10 minutes of the second half was almost like big lightbulbs going off for everyone," Cannon said. "This year, our motto is 'Success by Committee' and really having everyone contributing, and getting the ball around not just relying on one or two people to do all the scoring and all the assisting."

That wasn't just the case in that victory over American, which was the start of the Blue Jays' current four-game winning streak. Johns Hopkins has eight players with 10 or more points at the midway point in the season.

In addition to her strong scoring ability early this season, Cannon also has 11 groundballs and has won eight draw controls.

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"She's completely fearless, she does all the dirty work for us, she's extremely unselfish and she's very, very strong," Tucker said.

While Cannon and the Jays have been quite successful to this point, they still have some tough tasks ahead. Hopkins has nine games remaining, including a home matchup against top-ranked Maryland on April 15 and a trip to No. 4 Duke to close the regular season on May 3.

Cannon said she thinks the team is on the right track, however, to keep the recent success going. And perhaps that will lead to more individual success for the MV grad, now that she has put her injury concerns behind her.

"Chemistry was really big for us, developing and seeing what each of us was capable of, in these first few games," Cannon said. "We're pretty happy with where we're at right now. We still need to fix a few things, but I think we're really growing as a team and as a unit."

Reach staff writer Jake Rill at 410-857-7875 or jake.rill@carrollcountytimes.com.

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