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Franklin - Local Town Pages

Hoping For a Healthy Senior Season

FHS senior and girls’ lacrosse captain Keira Kucich has worked hard to be on the field after her ACL injury. She’s hoping that hard work will pay off for the team. Photos used courtesy of Keira Kucich

By Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Keira Kucich was looking forward to laying her first full season the Franklin girls’ lacrosse team last spring as a defender for the Panthers. However, things didn’t go as planned, and before she could literally get her season beginning, it was over.
The junior, who began playing lacrosse in second grade because of her older brother by two years, was looking forward to her first full season with the varsity squad. She had picked up her first lacrosse stick, because she wanted to do what her older brother was doing, as he was an aspiration to her.
Kucich recalls that during her second game of the season, she remembers exactly how her season went from promising to sitting on the bench in a blink of an eye.
“I was so excited to finally being able to start that year. During the second game of the season, I had gotten the ball and was running along the endline- behind the goal when a girl from the other team pushed into me,” she said. “I fell to the ground awkwardly, twisting my leg and hearing a pop, but it didn’t hurt, so I got up and started walking to the bench. The pain was so much I sat out the rest of the game.”
Kucich, who had seen ACL tears, didn’t think that was her situation, but she knew something was off. Two days later she had an MRI, and a few days after that, she was told that her season was over. Coming into the season with high expectations, her season was over just like that.
In her early years playing lacrosse, the Franklin native would join the Gold Star Lacrosse club team, where she would play up until her junior season, the last that she could play with them. Through her Gold Star years, Kucich realized that she was a good player, but not an elite player. 
“I didn’t think that I had the talent as some of the others, but continued to play the game because I enjoyed it,” she said. “The more that I played, the more that I fell in love with it.”
It was with that skepticism that she arrived at Franklin High School and decided that varsity would be too much for her and her talents. Instead, she opted to try out for the junior varsity team.
“That varsity team was super strong, so I was scared to try out,” Kucich said. “I had no problem playing for the JV team. In fact, I think it helped me in the long run. For the JV team, I played midfield, doing things that I had never done before as a defender. Making offensive plays and shooting also gave me the confidence to play the game, while defensively it helped me to understand the perception of those playing attack and what they were looking to do.”
Franklin once again had a strong squad her sophomore year, and although she was on the varsity team, she didn’t see the field all that much. According to Kucich, it was a different kind of season primarily watching from the sidelines, but by doing so, it definitely motivated her to work harder in the off-season to earn herself a starting position with the Panthers. 
“As a sophomore reserve, she really worked hard to earn that starting position as a junior,” Franklin girls’ lacrosse Coach Kristin Igoe said. “She worked her way up, and I was so excited that we had such a strong defender back there, then the ACL.”
Igoe continue to say that Kucich was a leader that she could keep on the field the whole game if she needed to.
Despite tearing her ACL, the then junior wanted to still be with her teammates as much as she could. She found herself going to practices and games to cheer her team on. Once she had the surgery, she found that she really couldn’t be with the rest of her teammates all that much.
“I couldn’t really do too much after the surgery except go to physical therapy, which was an involved process,” she said. “At the end of January, nine months later, I was cleared to get back onto the field. The process is different for everyone, but I was just glad that I was at the shorter end of the therapy.”
In addition to her PT, the now senior, had a lot of work to do on her own to get back onto the field prior to her final lacrosse season beginning. Kucich found herself working out pretty much every day to build her muscle; ran for endurance and did some agility work.
“I know that it was a long time going through everything, but it seems like just yesterday that I got hurt. The time sure did fly by,” she said. “I feel really good; played in some scrimmages and pre-season tournaments to build my confidence back, but the injury still gets in my head, and I don’t want to go through that again.”
Now that her senior season is on the horizon, she is not only excited to be back on the field with her teammates, but she is also very hesitant about the game she loves.
“Hopefully, this will be my first full year on the varsity team. My goal is to stay healthy, while working hard and stepping into that leadership role as a captain,” she said. “I want to motivate this team from the field instead of the sideline this year, while also enjoying my senior season.”
Her coach also hopes her senior defender can stay on the field as she has big plans for her.
“This year, I am hoping to install her in some big roles for us,” Igoe said. “We know that although she is ready to go. It’s going to be a slow process at first, and we’ll have to wait and see how things go; eventually she’ll be comfortable and grow into her role.”
As she gets ready to take the field as a varsity athlete for the first time in many months Kucich is looking forward to a successful Franklin season, although it is going to be very different than in the past.
“This team has an interesting dynamic to it, I’m not too worried about how we’ll do despite losing a lot of talent,” she said. “The younger players are stepping up, and we have a new opportunity. It’s scary to me that all the girls that I’ve played with for so long are all off doing their own things in college.”
As long as the senior defender can stay healthy, she firmly believes that this Panther team can have a very fruitful campaign and that she can not only get to play an entire season, but do so with success.