SARATOGA SPRINGS — Local student-athlete Eowyn Lapp is gaining valuable experience ahead of her college soccer career, playing with the New York Shockers of the Women’s Premier Soccer League.
She is committed to play at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, a member of the Commonwealth Coast Conference. But for Lapp, it was quite the journey to get there.
Lapp said her dream was to play at a Division 1 school, but back-to-back injuries caused her to miss a significant amount of time during the recruitment process. While it was a long road back, Lapp eventually found a new home, a new major, and a new mindset along the way.
Lapp, who was homeschooled, has played for the Saratoga-Wilton Soccer Club since age nine, and also played for Hudson Valley Rocks, a team for homeschooled students.
In the fall of her junior year, Lapp was participating in the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association’s Olympic Development Program and was preparing to visit camps at colleges around the country.
However, a bad bounce caused things to change quickly. During a game that December, Lapp suffered an eye injury that caused her to miss six weeks of play.
“I shot a ball while a girl was trying to clear it, and my shot hit her foot, and went straight into my eye,” said Lapp. “It caused internal bleeding. It was really bad.”
Then, less than a month after recovering from the eye injury, Lapp tore her ACL while skiing at her job at West Mountain.
“I just went across ice, slipped. … My knee just twisted a little bit, and I felt a pull,” Lapp said. “I was like, ‘That’s my ACL.’ I knew it.”
As a result of the injury, Lapp missed a majority of the Saratoga-Wilton season and all of her senior year with Hudson Valley. After undergoing surgery, Lapp began a lengthy and difficult rehab process, including physical therapy “every day,” she said.
“I was very committed to doing it, because I wanted to get back in six months,” Lapp said.
Lapp said her physical therapist was “amazing,” and said she spent significant time asking questions about the process.
“I had a lot of questions, and I figured the more I know, the better I could help myself recover,” said Lapp. “That was my original intent of learning more, but then I just kind of got curious.”
Originally considering something like English or history as a college major, Lapp’s experiences with physical therapy eventually inspired her to find what will be her future major: exercise science.
“I just wanted to learn more, because it was cool to me,” Lapp said. “This was in the realm that I wanted to be for jobs, and I really enjoyed learning about it.”
Lapp was still hoping to join a Division 1 program, but a chance connection ended up leading her to her future home and team.
Chris and Cay Hanley, friends of the Lapp family, both attended Gordon College, a Division III school in Massachusetts. Lapp said that Cay Hanley reached out to Chuck Breton, the Gordon women’s soccer coach, to see if he would contact Lapp to offer encouragement.
But Breton ended up viewing Lapp’s highlight videos, she said, and later reached out to her as a recruit. They shared an initial phone call, which included Lapp’s parents and ended up lasting two hours.
“We had a really good call, and he was just really easy to talk to, really fun to talk to,” Lapp said. “It was just really enjoyable.”
Shortly after, Breton offered Lapp a spot on the Fighting Scots’ roster, she said. Breton also invited her to attend Gordon’s ID camp despite her injury, allowing her to meet the team and experience the Gordon campus for the first time.
Lapp said she ultimately felt that Gordon became “the obvious choice.”
“It just really felt like God knew what I needed, and I didn’t know what I needed,” Lapp said. “It was really cool, finally opening my heart up, and realizing that what God has for me is so much better than what I have for me.”
Now recovered from the ACL injury, Lapp has been preparing to begin her college career. In addition to playing with Saratoga-Wilton, Lapp joined the Shockers, a team made up primarily of other collegiate players. The Shockers are members of the WPSL and play home games at Afrim’s Sports Park in Colonie.
In preparation for the Shockers’ season, and in addition to practicing with her SWSC team, Lapp also participated in practices with the Saratoga-Wilton boys U18 team, which she said was “so amazing.”
“I’m so thankful for that,” said Lapp. “I had a great time, and it was really what I needed. … That was really great. I practiced with them quite a bit in addition to my team.”
Lapp cracked the starting lineup in her first game with the Shockers, she said, helping the team earn a 2-0 victory over the Kingston Capitals.
“It was just a great first game,” said Lapp. “We have a couple more games. I’m just excited to see where it takes me.”
She offered thanks to her coaches through the years, including Saratoga-Wilton coaches Kemp Bundy and A.J. Siebeneck, and Shockers’ head coach Kurtis Smith, among others.
Lapp said that ultimately, “a whole lot of good came out of” her experience, which she mainly attributed to being able to maintain a positive mentality.
“I had viewed my mentality as my nemesis, like, ‘My mentality is what messes me up,’” Lapp said. “I didn’t realize that if I learned how to control my mentality, that can be one of my biggest assets. That was one of the biggest things that came out of this injury, just knowing my mentality can be one of my strengths, it doesn’t have to be my nemesis.”