There was some uncertainty regarding whether Lindsey Dean would be able to suit up for the Our Lady of Mercy girls lacrosse team this spring after she suffered a concussion during basketball season.
Now that she’s back, the Mustangs are primed for a playoff run — and Dean’s certain of it.
Dean, Newsday’s Athlete of the Week, has been a force in three games since May 4, compiling 11 goals and 16 assists, highlighted by a three-goal, nine-assist performance in a 19-6 win over St. Dominic.
“I’m definitely a huge believer in just reacting to the game that’s in front of you,” said Dean, a senior bound for Drexel, which plays in the Colonial Athletic Association. “Sometimes I’ll score nine goals or assist nine goals. It also just depends on what the defense is giving me.”
Dean said her concussion came during a drill she wasn’t even participating in. She was standing on the sideline during practice in early February talking to one of her OLMA basketball coaches when a stray ball ricocheted off the side of her face.
Several doctors gave her opinions, and Dean said that the chances of her returning for her last season of high school lacrosse seemed bleak. But she said she “surprised therapists and myself a little bit” and made her return on April 23 against Kellenberg. Naturally, she led the team with three goals in a 13-4 loss.
“In the beginning, yes, we did well without her,” said fifth-year coach Lauren Ruppert, who saw something special in Dean as a freshman. “But it was almost like something was missing. When she came back, it was like a totally different team.”
Fellow senior Kendall Fressle assumed a leadership role in Dean’s stead, and Fressle, who Dean said is one of her best friends, succeeded as the focal point of the offense. With Dean back in the mix, the Mustangs had enough firepower to finish an undefeated season in CHSAA Class A. They hope to repeat as CHSAA champs later this month.
“Even though we’re undefeated, we don’t take anything that we’re given for granted,” Dean said. “We have been the absolute worst team before in the AAs, and we do not get cocky. We play with a chip on our shoulder every game.”
Dean’s presence was still felt during her injury, as she said she never missed a practice despite being on the sideline “for the first time ever.”
When she got back on the field, she played without any hesitation.
“You can’t play like that,” she said. “If you play like that, you’re never going to play as good as you can. I just try to play fearless and do the best I can.”