Recovered From ACL Surgery, Marissa White Ready to Return for Agnes Irwin (Pa.)


Marissa White is a senior midfielder at Agnes Irwin (Pa.).

No one is looking forward to Agnes Irwin’s March 22 opener against Springside Chestnut Hill more than Marissa White.

Agnes Irwin’s senior midfielder had a hat trick and an assist in her last high school game, a 12-10 loss to the Academy of Notre Dame in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association championship game. That was on May 23, 2019.

In the 1,034 days that will have passed between games, White lost the 2020 season to the COVID-19 pandemic and the entire 2021 season after tearing the ACL in her left knee.

“It was really tough,” White said. “I’m really excited to play again.”

White was cleared to return in full in December. She played in the ILWomen Indoor Lacrosse National Championships in early January, her first event post-surgery. She helped Agnes Irwin go unbeaten in its pool before losing to eventual champion St. Paul’s (Md.) in bracket play.

“She was our leading scorer and was somebody that definitely stood out on the field,” Agnes Irwin coach Lauren Wray said. “She was absolutely thrilled to be back competing again. That was the first time she had not just been out doing shooting and training, and she was out competing with other opponents.”

White had injured her knee in an indoor league scrimmage one year earlier, and an MRI days later confirmed her torn ACL. Recovery from surgery was slow, though some of that was by design. She originally planned to play her senior field hockey season in the fall, but she wasn’t fully recovered. White feels 100 percent now and won’t play with a brace. Her flashy speed is still there, as are the stick skills that helped her become the No. 2 recruit in 2022, according to Inside Lacrosse.

“I was kind of shocked,” White said. “The first time I went out with my dad, I had no expectation. When I did, we were both surprised. I was moving well with my stick. It was good to be back and not worry that I can’t do this or that now. It was really reassuring.”

The North Carolina-bound White maintained her skills at regular clinics, even when she wasn’t doing all the running. She never has been far from the game. Even when she was hurt, she came to all Agnes Irwin’s practices and games. It was hard for the competitive White to watch the team struggle, but she tried to give pointers and help however she could.

“She was learning from the sideline,” Wray said. “It’s a testament to her work ethic and love for the game. It helped her continue to grow as a player, even when she wasn’t physically able to be out there with her teammates.”

Agnes Irwin missed White last year on the field. The team had an uncharacteristically slow start, with losses in three of the first four games, before turning the corner. Along the way, Agnes Irwin avenged two of its early losses, culminating with the Inter-Ac Tournament title. White’s return adds a dynamic presence that was missing.

“One of the things that’s truly unique about Marissa is her ability to anticipate and read the game,” Wray said. “She’s obviously a very good goal scorer, but she’s actually an excellent defender as well. She was always able to create some turnovers and opportunities for us coming out of the defensive end and transitioning down the field. We definitely missed her in the midfield causing turnovers, causing chaos last year. And I think for us as well, offensively she is such a dynamic attacker. She’s multi-faceted. Not only can she dodge, but she’s actually excellent at cutting and receiving with both hands. Having that off ball person for defenders to worry about was another loss last year.”

White had erupted into the high school scene with 100 goals as a freshman for the Owls before missing two seasons. Her first year, she played on a midfield line with Emily Wills (Loyola), Natalie Pansini (Maryland) and Kacy Hogarth (Maryland).

“They really helped me adjust,” White said. “After the first few games, I really just kind of fit in. The pace was faster, but I had a lot of great girls around me. The ball wasn’t really in my stick, so I got to move more off ball, which is more my game. Working off ball and cutting, it’s easier to me. Having the ball in their stick, I was able to work off that when they would get doubled. And in midfield transition, I helped there too.”

White knows things won’t look the same for her this season. One hundred goals isn’t an expectation, but it wasn’t coming into her freshman year, either. Indoor nationals reminded her of the pace of play and gave her an intro into being a team leader, rather than being a role player.

“It’s going to be a lot different,” White said. “I’ll probably be more of the dodger and the facilitator if I was to get doubled. From that standpoint, my role is definitely going to change.”

White is part of a strong senior class and a fast midfield for Agnes Irwin, which also has a veteran core on defense and balanced attack. She is looking forward to helping the Owls compete for Inter-Ac and PAISAA titles, but more than anything, she is looking forward to just playing again.

“The perspective of not being able to, now that I can, I’m not taking it for granted and I’m appreciating all the little things,” White said. “When you’re doing drills, sometimes you’re not really in the moment, or you watch girls and they’re not really focusing. But now after I had to watch and couldn’t play, I really appreciate the little things.”

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