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Raiders on the Mend: Key Players Bouncing Back From Tough Injuries

  • Lebanon's Libby Stone trips over ConVal's Brooke Ellis as she attempts to take possession of the ball at Lebanon High School, on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018. Lebanon lost to ConVal 2-0. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • From left, Lebanon's Ashlyn Taber, Zoe Soule and Libby Stone cool off during half time in their game against ConVal Regional High School at Lebanon High School, on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018. Lebanon lost to ConVal 2-0. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Lebanon's Klaleh Punni stops the ball with her body in Lebanon's game against ConVal Regional High School at Lebanon High School, on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018. Lebanon lost to ConVal 2-0. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • The Lebanon girls soccer team put their hands in for a cheer before the start of the second half at Lebanon High School, in Lebanon, N.H., on Friday, Aug. 25, 2018. Lebanon lost to ConVal 2-0. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Lebanon's Ireland Fielder.

  • Lebanon's Ashlyn Taber.



Valley News Correspondent
Sunday, August 26, 2018

Lebanon — Ashlyn Taber set out to explore a potential career path in physical therapy and got much more than she bargained for.

Taber, a midfielder on the Lebanon High girls soccer team, spent a week last summer at Cioffredi & Associates in Hanover, shadowing one of the physical therapists. Two months later, she was back in the same building as a client.

The story of Taber and her left-knee injury came full circle Saturday when the senior started for the Raiders in their season opener against ConVal — a 2-0 victory for the visiting Cougars.

The ordeal began a year ago, when she tweaked her knee during summer league play and again during the high school preseason. Later, when Lebanon played Hanover early in the season, Taber’s knee gave out during a dash toward the ball. Her medial and lateral menisci were both torn. She had surgery at the end of September and was given a tentative timetable for recovery of eight months.

“(They said they) would try to push it because my favorite sport is lacrosse,” Taber said following Saturday’s game. “I worked really hard in PT, which is what I think I want to do as a career. And then it turned into nine months and 10 months and then it was like 10½ months.”

Taber is in a similar boat as her teammate, Ireland Fielder, who also was recently cleared for contact following a knee injury during last year’s soccer season. Fielder, a senior midfielder, is recovering from a torn ACL.

Raiders coach Breck Taber is well aware of both players’ rehab status and considers their year-old injuries on a regular basis.

“You’ve got to do it kind of cautiously, knowing that they still have to build that strength,” coach Taber said on re-integrating the two players, one of whom is his daughter. “And even though they’re cleared, they obviously have that in the back of their mind and they’re trying to keep pushing. They still have a little ways to go with it.”

The same can be said for the Raiders, who came out strong in the first 15 minutes before gradually relinquishing the upper hand.

“When you battle a team that’s got a little more fire and intensity, physicality, you’ve just got to play up to your skill levels and that didn’t necessarily happen as much as it should have today,” coach Taber said. “So put it behind us and go from here.”

The first half — halted at the 20-minute mark for a customary hot-weather water break — was scoreless.

The Cougars scored their first goal two minutes into the second half on a penalty kick by Nikki Bell. The shot was awarded after a Lebanon hand ball on the goal line prevented what would have been a no-doubt goal by the guests. Bell struck again just before the second-half water break, and Lebanon was unable to prevent the shutout.

The Raiders knocked on the door several times, but ConVal goalie Lindsey Cadey, was on point, especially when she tapped a dangerous, high-arching shot by Zoe Soule over the crossbar. Soule, Lebanon’s primary corner kicker on Saturday, showed good speed and ball control for the hosts.

Isabel Peress anchored Lebanon’s back line in between flanks Libby Stone and Grace Godfrey. The defensive triad did its best to protect goalie Sally Rainey, a returning sophomore who made 10 saves, several of them by diving to the turf.

Despite Lebanon’s loss, Saturday represented a victory over oneself by both Fielder and Ashlyn Taber. If the latter ends up pursuing the field of physical therapy, she’ll do so with new insight; something she may not have gained by suiting up for her junior lacrosse season.

Taber remembers meeting someone during her knee rehabilitation that had been through the same process.

“My therapist had an intern working with her, she was awesome,” Taber said. “She went to Utica and was a lacrosse player, a soccer player, and she went through the exact same injury, so it was kind of cool to connect with her because she knew exactly what I was going through.”