May 8, 2009

By Amy Farnum Novin
NCAA.com

Villanova University men’s lacrosse player Chris MacDonald’s playing career should have already been over, but he’s really glad he’s still around to experience the program’s history-making season.

Days before the Wildcats’ first scrimmage last year, MacDonald’s supposed senior season took a tragic turn as he suffered a partially-torn ACL and meniscus tear.  

“I thought something was wrong, but I kept walking and I kept running on it,” said MacDonald.  “I practiced every day until the scrimmage and by the end of it I just couldn’t really walk on my knee.”

MacDonald finally saw the doctor before the Wildcats’ season-opener versus Syracuse, and the injury was serious enough to warrant surgery and a six-week hiatus from any activity.

“From there on out, I couldn’t really make an impact on the season – I couldn’t get in shape fast enough and my knee wasn’t permitting,” said MacDonald.

Villanova trudged through a disappointing 5-10 season as MacDonald watched on the sidelines, and tried to work on his footwork with the team’s trainer.

The native of Westfield, N.J., discussed the possibility of applying for a medical redshirt with his father, who agreed his son should attempt a comeback in 2009 while seeking a second major in economics.

MacDonald successfully went through the fall season, and was felt he was once again ready for competition this spring.

“Coming in to the season, I thought I was well-prepared because I participated in all the fall events and practices and tournaments,” said MacDonald.  “In the fall, for the first month or two, I really didn’t have my feet like I used to but it came back pretty quickly.  The anticipation of our first game of the season – I’ve never been so excited.”

A captain for the Wildcats, MacDonald’s leadership has been an integral part of the program’s turnaround from last year’s losing season.  He tops the squad with 23 assists and 31 points, but is quick to commend his teammates’ efforts as well.

“If you look back at all the players last year when we were 5-10, we really didn’t lose anyone,” said MacDonald.  “You have to really credit the whole senior class, so that reflects great senior leadership as a class.  Coming back after we went 5-10, it wasn’t only the captains or the seniors or juniors – it was the sophomores and freshmen that really pushed hard, too.”

Villanova has compiled an 11-5 mark this season, and became the first No. 4 seed to win the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament as the Wildcats upset top-seeded Hofstra and second-seeded Towson.
   
“I remember when the final horn blew and the final score was 10-9, I’ve never been so excited,” said MacDonald.  “I’ve never seen the parents so excited, and all the players were just running around going crazy.  It was an awesome experience, especially with us leaving the CAA and going to the BIG EAST – we really left a statement.”

The championship victory earned the Wildcats a berth to the NCAA Division I Championship for the first time in program history.  They do, however, have a tough road ahead as they travel to No. 1 Virginia on May 10 at 2:30 p.m.

“Coach (Michael Corrado) is telling us to enjoy the experience, but we’re not just going down there to lose,” said MacDonald.  “We’re making that five or six-hour trip to compete and win.”
Regardless of the outcome, there is no doubt MacDonald is happy for the unexpected detour in his collegiate career.

“I’m very excited that I’m back,” said MacDonald.  “It would have been nice to graduate with my friends in my class that I originally started with, but I wouldn’t trade anything else to be here.  This is great.”