By Melissa Shulman
UNC Athletic Communications
Seniors Meghan Lyons and Caitlin Powers never imagined they would spend their senior year watching the Tar Heels from the sidelines as they battled season-ending injuries. Although they face injuries on opposite ends of the spectrum, together they have become a unit on the sidelines that emanates a positive attitude.
"It's hard knowing you can never go out on the field," said Powers. "We have both been able to find different ways to contribute and still be a part of the team."
Lyons, a business journalism major with a minor in entrepreneurship from Wilmington, Del., has a dead sesamoid in her left foot and will have it surgically removed after the end of the season.
"I knew from the start of the season I was struggling with an injury that was going to take a while to recover from," Lyons said. "I had two options - to get surgery immediately and knew that I would be out for the entirety of the season or try to work through it and get back to playing."
Despite her persistent effort to try and work through her injury, it ended up being a lot worse than anyone had originally thought.
Powers, a business major from Villanova, Pa., initially sustained her injury during a scrimmage against Duke last spring. Playing goalkeeper, she dove to save a ball and a player's foot came up underneath her helmet and kicked her in the chin, leaving her with 10 stiches and a concussion. Despite being out for the remainder of the spring, she returned in the fall, participated in preseason and played in the first two games of the season. Unfortunately, she starting experiencing concussion symptoms again and was forced to take time off but she had hopes of being able to come back.
"We had the idea that if I took time off now that towards the end of season once we got into ACC play and tournament time I could come back in. Unfortunately we've made progress but not enough that I can actually be cleared," Powers said.
Despite not being able to physically compete, Lyons and Powers have drawn on their experiences from red hirting their first seasons at UNC to cope with not being able to be on the field.
"We have transitioned from a role where we can't play at all, to where we did play, and then transitioned back out again," said Lyons. "It's been good for the chemistry for the team this year to see how involved we still are even though we can't be playing."
Although being on the sidelines is not ideal, Lyons and Powers have each other to lean on.
"Some days one of us has a good day one of us has a bad day but we kind of play off one another," Powers said. "It makes it easier having someone there that you can talk to everyday as opposed to sitting on the sides by yourself."
The highlight of the season for both players was being able to start in the game on Senior Day in Henry Stadium. Although they got limited playing time due to their injuries, Lyons and Powers expressed the happiness they felt being able to play with the team one last time.
"I know we were both looking forward it," Powers said. "It meant so much that we could finally be with the seniors one last time, start the game and finish it off the right way at Henry Stadium."