Lindsey Marshall’s on-field success in 2023 is a result of a long road to recovery after 2021 ACL injury

By: Courtney Ott, Deputy Sports Editor

On Oct. 21, 2021, the Towson Women’s Lacrosse team held their last fall-ball scrimmage before playing the University of Florida that weekend. Attack Lindsey Marshall was at practice preparing when things didn’t go as planned for her sophomore season.

Marshall dodged down the goal’s right side and went to tuck her right hand in front of her face for a face dodge. She took a weird step and hit the ground, hearing all the pops in her knee. She instantly knew what had just happened.

“I remember saying to my teammates, ‘Did you hear that’ and they said no. I said, ‘It’s gone, it’s torn,’ and I kept repeating that like a broken record,” said Marshall.

The day after Marshall was injured, she had to get an MRI to confirm her sustained injury. The doctors saw the torn ACL; her meniscus was torn completely in half and off the root. 

An ACL injury is a knee injury that happens when a sudden force hits one’s knee, like a quick change of direction or abruptly stopping from fast speed. 

“It didn’t hurt at all when it happened. For me, it felt like the entire top half of my body came off and then went back on,” said Marshall. “I got carried off the field onto the bench, and that’s when the pain started to come in. It was excruciating. My knee had already swelled to the size of a softball.”

ACL injuries are more common in women athletes because of their bone structure. According to an article published by Yale Medicine, “an ACL tear is one acute injury that female athletes are two to eight times more likely to experience than males.” The female pelvis is wider, which changes how the thigh bone, tibia and femur function. Also, since women have less muscle mass around their knee, it is more likely to be torn if overstretched. 

The next step on the long road to recovery was to get surgery on Nov. 11, 2021.

“They took part of my patellar tendon out and made a new ACL and put it back in my knee. I had to get my meniscus sewn back together and on top of my bone,” said Marshall. “I have hypermobile joints, so to prevent me from reinjuring my knee, they took my IT band and cut it in thirds. They wrapped it around my new ACL, so my right knee won’t hyperextend anymore.”

Once Marshall got her surgery, she started rehab four days later. She attended rehab every day except for Sundays. She stayed in rehab until October 2022, when she was cleared to play in incremental levels of contact during this past fall season. During rehab, Marshall’s injury was full of ups and downs.

“I think sitting back those first two weeks and thinking I have 11 months to go is really hard to find the positives in that. I had a lot of negative self-talk,” Marshall said. “I celebrated little victories like lifting my leg off the table or only lifting my leg off a centimeter more than the day before, but either way, it’s still a victory. You’re going to have a lot of fluctuating days, and you have to know something good will come out of it.”

ACL injuries can take up to a year to recover from, and Marshall struggled with sitting on the sidelines. Despite the struggle, Marshall had a robust support system behind her from her parents, sister, teammates, coaches and her athletic trainer Miranda Boucard.

Marshall would go to Boucard as somebody she could lean on for support. Boucard left Towson in August 2022 after receiving a new position at Western Michigan University, but she still keeps in contact, texting Marshall before and after every one of her games.

“The day of our first game last year, I was a wreck. I sat in her office and just cried, and she was always there listening to me,” explained Marshall. “When you have an injury, you just want people to listen. When I needed advice and asked for it, she gave it to me, and she was able to listen and understand what I was going through.”

Boucard had been with Marshall on the field from the day she tore her ACL until when Boucard left. She stood alongside Marshall in rehab and watched her return to the lacrosse player she once was.

“From early on, she had a really positive attitude,” said Boucard. “A constant thing that we talked about and gave her reassurance was getting her back and better than she was before the injury. I’ve watched all of her games… Something clicked, and she thought, if it’s going to happen, it will happen. ‘I’m going to go play lacrosse.’ I saw a big difference in how she played games after that.”

When the Towson Women’s Lacrosse team started their spring season in 2022, Marshall was devastated that she couldn’t join her teammates out on the field. Instead, she had to watch from the sidelines alongside her coaches. 

“I stood with my offensive coach on the sideline and held up offensive play cards. It was a blessing and a curse because being around it makes you miss it a lot more,” Marshall said. “I was always a three-sport athlete, so I was never not on a field. I sat there and almost felt helpless in a way, and there was nothing I could’ve done that would make me be cleared.”

After a whole season of watching from the sidelines, Marshall was finally cleared to play in September but could not yet face any contact. Then in October, Marshall was cleared for contact but in small doses. When she returned for the spring season in January, she could play at full force. After returning from such a substantial injury, Marshall found herself holding back, fearful of being reinjured again.

“When I came back in the spring, I realized how hesitant I was without knowing. It was something in the back of my head that was saying maybe I wasn’t ready. Going into full force, I was playing completely different, and I was scared, and I didn’t want to admit it to myself,” Marshall explained.

Marshall started to take on the mindset that if it happened, she’d complete the process again. Being able to step back on the field and play the sport she loves was a special moment for her.

“The best part was the starting lineup. You get your name called and run past your teammates and give high fives. Everyone seemed so excited for me, and that was a huge motivation for me,” said Marshall. “I got to stand beside my best friends and got to play the game I grew up loving and still love. Scoring my first goal, I realized that I can do this. They aren’t just giving me a starting position because I was once good.”

Now, Marshall has been back in full action for the 2023 season. She is currently the third-highest goal scorer on the team with 35 goals and the second-leading scorer in free position goals with seven. She also leads the team with three ground balls per game and 63 draw controls.

“I think that if it happens again, it happens again. I just do the same thing over again,” said Marshall. “I’m here for a reason. I can do this, I can do hard things, and I want to do hard things.” 


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