The Gators’ Senior Day on Saturday will be an unusual one.
They will only be honoring one player: attacker Caroline Cochran.
Unfortunately for the team’s lone senior, her final season was over almost before it had a chance to begin.
Cochran, who tore the ACL in her left knee on Feb. 15 during UF’s home opener against Jacksonville, will watch from the sidelines as No. 5 Florida (13-2, 3-0 American Lacrosse Conference) takes on No. 17 Vanderbilt (7-5, 1-3 ALC) in its final home game of the season.
“I’m still not over it,” Cochran said. “It’s really upsetting. It’s not fun to sit on the sidelines.”
After transferring to Florida following her freshman year at Virginia in 2009, Cochran scored 46 points combined in her sophomore and junior seasons.
Once her knee buckled after changing direction while trying to defend a Dolphins attacker, Cochran knew her career at UF was potentially done. She had torn the ACL in her right knee seven years ago and knew from the feeling it was the same injury.
“As soon as it happened, I knew it,” Cochran said. “I heard it.”
While she has been sidelined most of the season, Cochran has stayed around the team to rehab her knee and be around her teammates, who Cochran said provided a solid support system in the days following the injury. Coach Amanda O’Leary said Cochran’s presence has also been a benefit to the team, even if she isn’t on the field.
“She’s a great listener,” O’Leary said. “As an upperclassman and as a senior she’s been through a lot of things, and she’s been really helpful to our younger players.”
Junior attacker Kitty Cullen was impressed by Cochran’s attitude from the outset of her rehab, noting that it can only help to have someone with such a positive personality around the team.
“She could’ve gotten hurt and blown the rest of us off,” Cullen said. “She didn’t do that at all. She had such a great attitude. Even the day after she found out her ACL was torn, she had such a positive outlook on everything.”
While the Gators have been successful on offense this season, leading the country in both goals and goals per game, losing Cochran left a void in the offense that O’Leary has had to fill in unconventional ways.
As a left-handed attacker, Cochran could naturally attack from the left side, something none of the other starters could do.
“She gave us the opportunity to work the left side of the field,” O’Leary said. “Gabi (Wiegand) can go on that left side. (Caroline) Chesterman can go on that side, but it’s always nice to have a true lefty.”
While she is upset her career ended with an injury, Cochran said she is proud of what her teammates have accomplished this year and she is looking forward to walking on the field one last time as a Gator.
“It’s obviously going to be really sad,” Cochran said. “I know that I will be really emotional, but I’m sure it will be exciting as well.”