March 17, 2009

A Record with a Different Meaning

by Jac Coyne | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Lauren Carrier is in the NCAA record books for scoring at least one goal in 46 consecutive games - a feat she accomplished on March 5. When she looks back on her lacrosse career, just stepping on the field for her senior year will be Carrier's biggest accomplishment.
© John Strohsacker

Lauren Carrier saw the space she was looking for late in the first half.

Face-guarded for most of the first stanza by a Washington College defender, Carrier utilized a pick by one of her St. Mary's (Md.) teammates and broke free in front of the goal. She collected a pass from Kelsey Branch and beat the goalie to give the Seahawks a 6-3 lead.

And make history.

It was on that goal that Carrier, a senior for St. Mary's, set the record for most consecutive games with at least one goal at 46 - a mark that started her rookie year during an April 15, 2006 loss to Mary Washington.

As her teammates mobbed her, Carrier thought very little about the record. Rather, she thought about the tortuous four months since crumpling to the ground last fall while playing for the Seahawks women's soccer team, her anterior cruciate ligament in tatters.

"Breaking the record was just icing on the cake," said Carrier, pausing to settle her emotions. "I just really appreciated being out on the field far more than I was thinking about a record."

When she did suffer her injury on Oct. 15 against Virginia Wesleyan, it appeared as though her lacrosse season was doomed, as well. With just four months - the earliest time a player can reasonably return from an ACL tear - until the first lacrosse game, Carrier's lacrosse career, and the record, was in serious jeopardy.

But there was Carrier rehabbing her knee twice a day all through the winter, the sweat often indistinguishable from the tears. It was a nice coda on her soccer career when she was named the Capital Athletic Conference Player of the Year despite playing in just 11 games, but Carrier wasn't about to let that award make up for the loss of her lacrosse career.

On Feb. 18, just three days before St. Mary's first game of the season against nationally-ranked Washington & Lee, Carrier got the green light from her doctor to give it a shot.

For the first time she was able to play in front of Kara Reber, the coach of the Seahawks who was hired in the offseason, and tried to prove that she was worthy of playing for a ranked team, as St. Mary's was No. 15 in Lacrosse Magazine's preseason poll.

She managed to score one goal against W&L, and followed that up with four goals against Wesley and three markers versus a ranked Dickinson squad, tying her with Scranton's Liz Baumbach, who scored in 45 consecutive games from 2001-03.

After having a Washington College defender shadowing her for the first 24:32 of the game, Carrier finally saw her chance at history.

Although she had only seen Carrier play for a couple of weeks, Reber understood what allowed Carrier to not only smash the record, but work so doggedly to get back when no one would have questioned her if she put her lacrosse stick in the corner for good.

"I believe one of the main reasons she has been able to break this record is because of her hard work and determination," said Reber, who has guided the Seahawks to a 6-1 start. "When Lauren sets her mind to accomplishing something, she gets it done."

"It's really hard to explain how I felt," said Carrier, remembering back to the post-goal celebration. "I went through so much and I've come so far, and finally getting there was just a sigh of relief. I'm finally doing this."

Putting the record to bed should be a boost to both Carrier and St. Mary's. Instead of trying to force the ball to Carrier, which led to numerous unnecessary turnovers, the Seahawks can play their game. And instead of worrying about her name in a record book, Carrier can enjoy what she worked so hard to accomplish.

"I have to appreciate every game I get to play in," she said. "I'm not worried about scoring a goal, I just like being out on the field with my team."

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