hen Lexi Kucia arrived at La Salle University, she came with a good story for anyone who asked about her badly scarred left leg.

“Shark attack,” Kucia would respond. “It looks like that. I’d go with it a little.”

It was a great conversation starter, but Kucia would go on to reveal that the scar actually was from a car accident. Her injuries were bad enough that doctors originally told her parents that she wouldn’t play lacrosse or even run again.

"> La Salle's Lexi Kucia Endures After Accident, Injury | USA Lacrosse Magazine

Defender Lexi Kucia decommitted from Navy, switched to La Salle, fractured her fibula in a car accident, returned to score a goal in a league championship victory and tore her ACL— all in a span of six months.

La Salle's Lexi Kucia Endures After Accident, Injury


hen Lexi Kucia arrived at La Salle University, she came with a good story for anyone who asked about her badly scarred left leg.

“Shark attack,” Kucia would respond. “It looks like that. I’d go with it a little.”

It was a great conversation starter, but Kucia would go on to reveal that the scar actually was from a car accident. Her injuries were bad enough that doctors originally told her parents that she wouldn’t play lacrosse or even run again.

Yet four days after the accident, Kucia, a defender, gave her commitment to La Salle.

“There were so many weird emotions,” said Kucia, who had committed originally to Navy exactly two years earlier on the accident date. “The accident happened, and then I was committing to La Salle.”

Kucia downplayed the accident. She called it a “bump in the road” when she talked to coach Candace Bossell about coming to La Salle.

“I had no idea the seriousness of the accident,” Bossell said.

Kucia had scored a goal in the season opener for Archbishop John Carroll (Pa.) High School the day before the accident, but she played just two minutes the rest of her senior season, returning to score an emotional goal in Archbishop Carroll’s 21-4 win over Archbishop Wood to seal its 16th straight Philadelphia Catholic League championship.

“It was a really cool moment,” Kucia said.

It gave her some positive momentum going into the summer, but three months later, Kucia was into her second week of practices with La Salle when she tore the ACL in her right knee.

“It was hard,” Kucia said. “I love my team so much. Watching them play, I was always excited because everyone was doing really well, but I wanted to be out there with them. That kind of stunk. I tried to turn that into working hard in [physical therapy] and getting stronger so when I came back this year, there wouldn’t be any more bumps in the road for me.”

“I looked down, and it was basically bone and blood everywhere. The first thing I thought was, ‘My leg’s gone.’”


s the Explorers, coming off a 7-11 season, return to campus for fall ball, Kucia is working her way toward playing in her first meaningful game in two years.

“I want to make everyone proud,” Kucia said. “I want to stay strong and get back on the field and make everyone proud.”

Kucia, a communication major, still has four years of NCAA eligibility. She is taking a step-by-step approach, beginning with La Salle’s run test Wednesday.

“That’s all I try to think about,” Kucia said. “When I think about playing lacrosse again, it kind of scares me because of everything. I’ve been thinking, ‘Let’s just pass the run test first.’ Then we’ll get through the first practice, and then the first game and take it step by step instead of looking at everything, because then I’d get overwhelmed.”

Overwhelmed and anxious is how Kucia felt as she inched closer and closer to honoring her original commitment to Navy. She had been flattered by the offer in her sophomore year, and her parents encouraged the commitment, because they thought it would give the easygoing Kucia more inspiration and drive. It was almost Thanksgiving of her senior year at Carroll when she decommitted.

“The Navy coaches were awesome and I loved all the girls, but that atmosphere just wasn’t for me,” Kucia said. “I just knew I was not going to thrive there. It was definitely rough.”

Kucia felt relief after opening up her college options again, but she didn’t know exactly what schools might still want her.

“Everyone from my class was basically already committed where they were going to be committed, and I didn’t even know what the options would be,” she said. “That was a whole other process. I thought, ‘Maybe this isn’t for me.’”

It was March before Bossell found out that Kucia was available again to recruit. They connected on the phone and Kucia related well to the other players when she visited campus. But on April 1, 2016, leaving a Carroll practice with two of her friends, Kucia was a passenger in the back seat when their small car lost control around a turn. Kucia wasn’t wearing her seatbelt. She ended up on top of the dashboard.

“I definitely learned it the hard way,” Kucia said, “but I learned it.”

While the driver was slumped over the wheel, the front-seat passenger got out of the car. Kucia tried to follow her, but her leg wasn’t moving. Shock was setting in as she surveyed the damage.

“I looked down, and it was basically bone and blood everywhere,” Kucia said. “The first thing I thought was, ‘My leg’s gone.’”


Kucia was the passenger in the back seat of a small car when the driver lost control around a turn. Kucia, who was not wearing a seatbelt, ended up on top of the dashboard. She needed skin grafts to repair her left leg.

All three girls made it out of the car and survived the accident, but doctors weren’t optimistic about Kucia’s chances of playing sports again. The mood changed after she had surgery and the surgeon assured the family that it had gone as well as could be imagined. Kucia’s leg that had been sliced open almost surgically in the accident was intact, though she did need skin grafts.

“All they had to do was clean everything out and stitch it back together,” Kucia said. “I had a fractured fibula, but they said I was lucky I didn’t cut an artery or tear any ligaments. I was just the luckiest person.”


ucia returned to Carroll, became the next-to-last commitment for La Salle’s Class of 2020, and started the recovery process. She covered up her injured leg to protect it, though she doesn’t cover it up anymore.

“My leg is still numb,” Kucia said. “My whole front shin I still can’t feel. Other than that, I really don’t have any problems with it.”

After celebrating another Catholic League title with Carroll, Kucia continued her comeback in preparation for the college level. She didn’t talk about her accident unless asked about her scar, but Brittany Edwards, a La Salle junior attacker from the same hometown of Malvern, Pa., had heard about the accident and Kucia. Mutual friends had told Edwards that the two would hit it off once on the same team, and they did.

“She’s a really good person,” Edwards said. “She’s genuine. She always has people’s back and wants the best for everyone. As a teammate, she has a really good athletic drive and she’s really determined and competitive. She sees the best in the team.”

La Salle was excited about Kucia’s potential. At 5-foot-11, she is the tallest player on their roster, and she came from a winning background with Carroll.

“She has all the intangibles,” Bossell said. “She has size and is smart, and the stuff you can’t teach. She’s just a winner. She wants to be there. She has such a positive attitude. She’s such a workhorse. She’s very grateful for the opportunity she’s been given, and I think that’s not the standard this day and age.”

Kucia was still a bit behind in her fitness when she arrived at La Salle last year, and it took her several tries to pass the run test. She had just passed it when she tore her ACL at the next practice Sept. 12, 2016.

“I was going for a ground ball. I went to turn and it was the worst pain,” Kucia sad. “I didn’t feel anything with the accident because I was in shock. This was worse. All of a sudden, I felt my knee snap.”

Kucia underwent surgery a month later, and showed what sort of teammate she was in its aftermath.

“She still pushed through,” Edwards said. “She still came every day. She did P.T. all the time. When she could, she’d run with the team and she’d run extra with people who needed it, which really helped.”

Kucia tried to find other ways to help the team since she couldn’t get on the field.

“At practice, I’d help with the goalies,” Kucia said. “There were times all I could do was stand there, but Candace tried to keep me involved which was nice. During games, I got to hold the defensive cards. I got to follow Ally [Heavens, La Salle assistant coach] around. It was fun.

“It was better in-season. Games were so much fun. It was fun getting everyone hyped and keeping the good vibes going. I was obviously upset I wasn’t playing, but it wasn’t like I was just sitting there.”

Said Bossell: “She’s such a happy, positive kid. She always sees the positive side of everything.”


Kucia, with teammate Lynne Frankel, bears a large scar on her left leg that was sliced open in an April 2016 car accident.


ucia credits that attribute to the people surrounding her. Kucia needed a good support group to endure all she has gone through over the last 17 months — decommitting, searching for a new school, losing a season to a terrifying car accident, tearing her ACL and recovering.

“There are obviously days where you’re like, ‘This sucks,’” Kucia said. “But that’s where it was important to have these people in my life. I’d always call my mom, and she has this line — ‘Bigger, better, stronger.’ She would let me complain for however long and then she’d say, ‘You’ll be bigger, better, stronger for it.’ Looking back now, she’s right. Coming in, I feel this is the best shape I’ve been in. Mentally, just because of everything that’s gone on, I feel stronger.”

La Salle is looking forward to seeing Kucia contribute this year. The Explorers are young overall, but boast enough talent to compete in the Atlantic-10. Kucia figures to be battling for a spot on defense.

“She’ll be a good defender for us,” Edwards said. “She has basketball background too, so I think her defense will be pretty solid.”

Kucia expects to be cleared for contact this fall, when she can resume full-time play for La Salle. She will wear a brace on her right knee. Her left knee will forever bear the scars of the car accident. They are the only visible reminders of the most challenging stretch of her career.

“It definitely makes me appreciate it so much more,” Kucia said. “I used to complain about going to practice, or say, ‘I don’t feel like running.’ But now I appreciate it. Now you do it the best you can. If anything, I’ve learned nothing’s ever promised. Every time you step on the field, or everything you do — life in general — you have to do the best you can because you never know when it can end. It honestly has made me better for it.”