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A torn#8217; season By Thadd White 09/26/2007 MURFREESBORO – The busiest person on Chowan University#8217;s campus may well be Lisa Bland. Bland, who is a trainer for the Hawk athletic program, is res

MURFREESBORO – The busiest person on Chowan University’s campus may well be Lisa Bland.

Bland, who is a trainer for the Hawk athletic program, is responsible for the Chowan women’s soccer program and that group of players has been through an injury epidemic.

Four players on the team, including two starters, have gone down due to ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) tears in this season alone. An ACL, in layman’s terms, is the ligament that stabilizes the knee.

“In all my years of soccer, I’ve never seen this happen,” Chowan Head Women’s Soccer Coach Georgina Donnelly said. “In my four years at Lock Haven, there may have been two or three (of this type of injury) total.”

Donnelly’s knowledge is extensive since she’s been around soccer her entire life, including her four years as a standout player at Lock Haven.

The injuries began this season when Katie Duncan, a red-shirt freshman, reported to camp with an ailing knee. Though in pain, she participated in workouts, since she hadn’t realized how badly the knee was injured.

“Katie Duncan tore her ACL over the summer, but didn’t realize it,” Bland said. “When I examined her knee, I told her I was pretty sure it was torn.”

Bland’s diagnosis was confirmed and Duncan is set to undergo surgery next month.

The next injury came quickly when Kat Feagans tore her ACL in the team’s opening contest with Belmont Abbey. Feagans, a defender who was slated to both start and come in off the bench, is a freshman from Stafford, Virginia.

Feagans is still waiting on her MRI to confirm the diagnosis.

As damaging as the first two injuries were, they paled in comparison to what happened when the Hawks traveled to USC-Aiken on September 15.

In the first half of the contest, senior captain Melissa Rodgers went down, again suffering what is likely to be a torn ACL. Moments later, with the team still reeling, leading scorer Ashley Bradford suffered the same fate.

“For Mel and Ashley to go down within minutes of each other is just a freak occurrence,” Bland said.

According to Bland, while having four torn ACL’s on one team in one season is highly unusual, the injury is more common to females.

“The canal the ligament passes through is more narrow in females and has jagged edges, which makes them more susceptible to the injury,” Bland said. “In males, the canal is wider and doesn’t have those jagged edges.”

The four injuries were compounded when sophomore defender Erin Jackson suffered a concussion early in the season.

She has missed more than a week with the injury and is still listed as day-to-day.

While the injuries have limited the Hawks’ depth (Donnelly only has three field substitutes), the coach and her team still believe it can be a successful season.

“Well, even before the injuries, I think we realized a bid to the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) tournament was a long shot,” she said. “As an independent, we would have to be almost perfect. We were confident in getting a bid to the NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association) tournament, however.”

She admitted the injuries, which have played a large part in the team starting 2-6-2, have them taking one game at a time.

“If we can win our games this week, we’re right back in there,” Donnelly said. “We have to take each game as it comes.”

The coach said she was getting a lot out of senior captain Casey Driver and sophomore midfielder Clara Danzeisen, but said the two would have to play an even bigger role with the absence of Bradley and Rodgers.

She was also pleased with the play of sophomore Meredith McCarthy as she has moved in to replace Bradley.

“She is blossoming in that role,” Donnelly said.

The coach also indicated she was pleased with the play of Kermethia Abernathy and Stephanie Montague in the last several contests.