When sophomore Courtney Tomchik was a high-school senior, every collegiate lacrosse coach knew her name.
She was the 13th-best incoming freshman in the country in 2010, eventually choosing Penn over Duke.
“She just has that natural ability of speed and quickness,” coach Karin Brower Corbett said.
Yet, before she even played a game for the Quakers, Tomchik suffered an injury during fall workouts.
And just like that, she was off of the lacrosse world’s radar.
“Teams will see who played and who didn’t, and they won’t always know whether a player sat due to injury or what,” Corbett said. “And the next year, they’ll look at the incoming freshmen and forget about some of the players who were on the bench.”
For an entire season, Tomchik was unable to engage in physical exercise, leaving her detached from the game.
“It was tough having to watch my team every day at games and at practice because I wasn’t really part of that,” Tomchik said. “I wasn’t physically engaged.”
Despite being unable to take the field, Tomchik connected with the game on a different level.
“Emotionally, spending that year on the sidelines just gave me the drive to recover,” Tomchik said. “And I focused more mentally on what I could do when I was healthy.”
At the same time she was working on her own health, she was still learning as much as she could about the team.
“I spent most of my time cheering my teammates on and mentally trying to pick up on what they were practicing.”
When it came time for Tomchik to take to the field this season, she made her presence known very quickly.
In her first game back, she scored three goals and tallied two assists in Penn’s defeat of Drexel.
Through nine games this season, Tomchik has 15 points, tied for fourth best on the team. Despite these numbers, she downplayed her impact.
“I’m just another option for Erin Brennan or Caroline Bunting to look for,” Tomchik said. “It’s not like they target me or anything.”
Corbett would beg to differ about Tomchik’s impact.
“She’s really stepped up her play, especially in Ivy League games,” Corbett said. “It came as a surprise to a lot of her teammates, but not to our coaches.”
Originally, that same shock value applied to Penn’s opponents, but Corbett is sure “the moment they looked at the box score and saw her name, they remembered her.”
Despite that recognition and increased attention, however, Tomchik continues to be effective, scoring on more than half of her shot attempts thus far.
Her continued success demonstrates Tomchik’s ability to adjust her game to her opponents.
She’ll need to maintain such efficient play on Sunday at noon when the Quakers (6-3, 4-0 Ivy) take on top-ranked Northwestern (10-0) at Franklin Field.
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