Eily Cogan wasn't healthy when she began her career with the Wheeling Jesuit University women's lacrosse team, but she hopes to have a strong finish.

The 2016 Olentangy Orange High School graduate suffered a knee injury following her final prep season and needed most of her first two seasons with the Cardinals to make her mark.

"I think (the transition to college lacrosse) was kind of hard," Cogan said. "I tore my right ACL and had a partial tear in the meniscus just after graduation in the (Orange) alumni game. I was coming into a new team with new teammates and I wasn't able to get on the field until January 2017."

As a junior this spring, Cogan started 18 games at defender as the Cardinals finished 12-7 overall and 7-3 in the Mountain East Conference and lost to Virginia-Wise 16-14 in the conference championship game. She ranked fourth on the team with 34 ground balls and had two assists.

In her first two seasons with Wheeling Jesuit, she played in 19 combined games, making two starts, and had one goal and 12 ground balls.

"This is the first time I have been back to 100 percent since I was cleared to play, and that made a big difference," Cogan said.

Wheeling Jesuit lost several players to graduation from its 2018 team that finished 10-7 overall and 5-0 in the MEC. The Cardinals also had a new coach this spring in Jenny Pawlowski, who quickly was impressed with Cogan.

"Eily is super loud and is always talking and communicating, which is so important on defense," Pawlowski said. "She is quick and understands the game conceptually. She slides to help out her teammates and her head is on a swivel.

"We lost a lot of our starting defense from last year so there was a lot of opportunity, and Eily came ready to take that next step. She worked out on her own to make sure she was prepared for the season."

Cogan, who has played lacrosse since she was in the third grade, enjoys the camaraderie needed to play on the defensive end of the field.

"The most important thing you can do as a defender is protect the goal and make sure no one gets past you," she said. "You have to be there for your teammates because it's no one person's fault when the other team scores."

Pawlowski is excited to see what Cogan does as a senior after having a solid season this spring.

"I expect her to be a leader on the field," Pawlowski said. "It's going to be exciting to see her get better and better as we try to implement new defenses.

"Other than being a great player, she is also a great person. She understands what it means to be a great example for younger student-athletes."

Lacrosse led Cogan to Wheeling Jesuit and she loves the college experience, even making several short videos for CampusReel about life at the school.

"I saw an ad for CampusReel and I noticed that they didn't have a video tour for Wheeling Jesuit," said Cogan, a biology major with a 3.3 GPA. "I thought it would be good to show campus life and let people know what we have to offer. Some of the people here said they had never visited the campus before coming here and I thought the videos would be helpful.

"If it had not been for lacrosse, I would have never heard of Wheeling Jesuit. I came here and I liked the biology department. I like a small college. It's a good fit for me."

shennen@thisweeknews.com

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