March 17, 2018 | ° F

Sophomore uses ACL tear as motivation for return to field

As the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team moves into the heart of its Big East schedule, the Scarlet Knights prepare for their next opponent, Marquette.

For one Knight, going through a normal week of preparation is a luxury that was not available to her last season.

Sophomore attacker Kristen Kocher was forced to redshirt last season after suffering a torn ACL during preseason. She underwent a difficult rehabilitation for her knee injury.

It was a long road back for the sophomore, including a setback this offseason to her surgically repaired knee. But nothing could stop Kocher from getting back on the field this year.

“The pace she came back with despite the setback was amazing,” said head coach Laura Brand-Sias. “She shocked everybody.”

Brand-Sias, who followed Kocher’s rehab every step of the way, also commented on how confident she was that her young attacker would get back to playing at a high level for the team.

“It’s not surprising given the person she is and the work ethic and dedication she has,” Brand-Sias said.

Kocher has returned to top form — and in a big way.

After seeing action in all 16 games as a freshman and recording 10 goals, she has already topped her career high in goals, while also adding four assists. The sophomore’s 13 goals this season are tied for second on the team despite playing in fewer games.

Her shooting percentage is the highest on the team among those who have at least 25 shots, and she has also picked up eight ground balls to go along with 11 draw controls.

In the Knights’ last match, Kocher recorded a career-high five points, as she scored four goals and added an assist in Rutgers’ loss to Connecticut.

Kocher stated that the torn ACL, and the hardship accompanied by it, motivated her more to get back to playing in time for the start of the season.

“It definitely took a toll on me and it was hard watching from the sidelines, but I just cheered my teammates on and worked hard knowing that I could get back on the field this year,” Kocher said.

Kocher carries the lessons she learned from the injury with her as she moves forward.

“It taught me not to take anything for granted because you never know when you’re going to get hurt and how long you’re going to be out for,” Kocher said.

Even with her elite play this season, Brand-Sias said that Kocher’s biggest contribution to the team has been off the field.

The example she sets for everyone else, and the work ethic she brings to the team, has been invaluable.

“I can’t imagine that there’s a single person in this program that doesn’t have the utmost respect for her,” Brand-Sias said.

For updates on the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

Conor Nordland

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