In the first five minutes of the game, lacrosse player Brianna McKay planted her right foot and spun off the defender like she had done countless times before. But this time her foot stayed planted and MacKay heard a tear in her knee and dropped to the ground in tears. Her meniscus was torn and her season was over.
Fast-forward two years and MacKay is the leading goal scorer in the North Atlantic Conference and the Spartans are focusing in on their fifth consecutive conference championship.
“Getting injured my sophomore year just drove me to do so much better in my last two years because I missed time that I needed to make up for,” MacKay said.
The senior has done just that, averaging over four goals per game while closing in on the program’s single season record.
“Seeing her on crutches and not being able to play to seeing her now as the leading goal scorer in the NAC is amazing from an athletic training student and also as her teammate,” senior goalie Megan Els said.
MacKay has also battled with a bad back her entire life.
“I was born with back problems. Extra vertebrae, scoliosis, L5 fusing together with my sacrum, disc degenerative disease and now I had a herniated disc in my back,” she said.
But with a positive attitude and support from her teammates, MacKay has been able to overcome all these obstacles.
“I’ve had so many bumps in the road with injuries and stuff that I keep thinking there’s nothing that can stop me from doing what I love,” MacKay said with confidence.
She credits her development in part to playing alongside former Spartans like Maddy DeCosta and Kate Auer.
“Playing with them over the three years taught me how to be a better overall lacrosse player,” MacKay said. “I wanted to be as good as them, which drove me even further.”
Friendly competitions between Els and MacKay have also played a role in their joint success.
“She warms me up every single day and she told me that she takes credit for a lot of my saves and that I should take credit for some of her goals,” Els said with a laugh.
MacKay has seen much more attention from opposing defenses, but she refuses to let it bother her and uses the pressure to help teammates.
“Bri has never really been shut down but when she’s being face-guarded she’s also a good passer and has a lot of assists,” Els said.
When asked if a championship this season would be more special than the others, MacKay thought for a second.
“I think so, because I didn’t contribute a lot my freshman year then I was injured my second year, but then last year I contributed much more and this year would just be the icing on the cake,” she said.