Women's Lacrosse

Taylor Gait’s hamstring injury derails redshirt junior’s season

Ally Moreo | Photo Editor

Taylor Gait has struggled with knee injuries throughout her career. This season, she's been sidelined with hamstring injuries.

Taylor Gait’s hamstring injury put her out two weeks. Rushing back sidelined her for two more.

On March 12, as Syracuse prepped for then-No. 3 Florida, Gait initially strained her hamstring. The team had been traveling a lot in recent days — a six-hour bus ride to Maryland followed by a four-and-a-half-hour plane ride to Florida — and Gait felt her hamstring tighten but thought nothing of it. When the pain became too unbearable she sat out and SU’s midfielder with a history of knee injuries now had a new ailment to worry about.

As SU readied itself for Duke two weeks later, Gait ran for the first time and hurt herself again. The Fayetteville, New York, native strained her hamstring in a different spot and found her way back on the bench.

“I couldn’t even walk,” Gait said. “I’m getting there. I haven’t done much.”

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Ally Moreo | Photo Editor

Thirty-three days and eight games have come and gone since the initial injury and Gait has played just once. SU went 1-3 in the first four games without the midfielder. But new players have stepped up, launching the No. 11 Orange (12-4, 5-1 Atlantic Coast) on a four-game win streak, including an upset of No. 2 North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Saturday. Two more injuries to sophomore attack Nicole Levy and senior defense Haley McDonnell thinned SU’s roster even further, and made Gait’s return more important. Yet, despite practicing more and feeling better, Gait has no timetable for return and head coach Gary Gait believes she’s going at half speed.

Against Virginia Tech on April 9, Gait saw her first action in about a month. The decision to return was sudden, just like her poorly timed injury. During the 12-11 overtime win, one of SU’s coaches walked over to Gait and asked her if she felt ready. She responded yes and ran onto the field, and the crowd cheered.

“Being up against a zone definitely helped,” Gait said. “It was good to get out there.”

The Hokies’ zone defense meant less cutting, dodging and, for Gait, less of a chance to reinjure her hamstring. Gait didn’t record a point and her limp was noticeable at times, but after the game, both Taylor and Gary were smiling. They knew it was a step in the right direction. Though, in SU’s next game against No. 2 UNC, Gait stood on the sideline, watching her team upset the Tar Heels, 13-11.

SU has coped with Gait’s injury thanks to the emergence of two underclassmen: sophomore Natalie Wallon (19 goals, two assists) and redshirt freshman Mary Rahal (23 goals, six assists). But the margin for error has been slim. The Orange has won its last four games by a combined nine goals. A lower-body injury suffered by Nicole Levy on April 5 against Loyola has only made matters worse.

“We follow the lead of our medical staff,” Gary Gait said of the injuries to Levy and Taylor. “Between our doctors and our trainers, we try to get them back as soon as possible.”

Two games remain on SU’s regular season schedule before postseason play — Gait’s self-determined return date. April 11 marked Gait’s first full day of practice after the injury. One day later, she could barely run.

Her trainer has left it up to her. If the hamstring feels fine, Gait will practice knowing the soreness will follow soon after. If not, Gait begrudgingly plants her feet on SU’s sideline, where she’s been stuck for the past month.

“I’m still going to take it easy,” Gait said. “I don’t know how much I’ll play. We’ll see but I really don’t know.”

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