Ex-Rider Faulmino puts injury in past, eyes UD soccer career

Despite missing all but the first five games of her senior year, Lexi Faulmino finished her career at CR with 121 goals and was a three-time All-State honoree. Delaware is hoping she can provide a boost to its scoring attack. (Delaware State News file photo)

Despite missing all but the first five games of her senior year, Lexi Faulmino finished her career at CR with 121 goals and was a three-time All-State honoree. Delaware is hoping she can provide a boost to its scoring attack. (Delaware State News file photo)

NEWARK — The first time Lexi Faulmino stepped onto a soccer field at the University of Delaware was a wakeup call.

The Caesar Rodney High product had fought back from a torn ACL. Her first practice showed her there was still another battle ahead of her.

She had to resharpen those skills that got her to Division I soccer.

“My first touch was definitely a lot worse than what I was expecting it to be,” she recalled. “Speed of play, I was so much slower than anyone else around me in basically with every aspect of the game. I knew in my head my knee was recovered and it was strong enough to play, I just really had to get my mind back into it.”

That was in the spring after what she estimated was a 10-month recovery. That all comes to an end today when Faulmino and the Delaware women’s soccer team travel to Villanova for a 4:30 p.m. kickoff.

Lexi Faulmino

Lexi Faulmino

The injury robbed Faulmino of a majority of her senior season at Caesar Rodney and her first year at UD. She redshirted last fall to maintain her freshman eligibility.

Despite missing all but the first five games of her senior year, Faulmino finished her career at CR with 121 goals and was a three-time All-State honoree. Delaware is hoping she can provide a boost to its scoring attack.

“Lexi is a phenomenal athlete,” said UD coach Scott Grzenda. “She brings some grit, which is what we’re looking for up top, someone who is hungry and will go for the ball. She has a great opportunity to help the team out.”

There was one positive Faulmino could take on her road to recovery — she wasn’t going through it alone.

Delaware teammate Karlee Panella, who graduated from Padua Academy the same year Faulmino graduated from CR, was also coming back from a torn ACL. Panella was injured less than a month after Faulmino in the spring of 2015.

Ironically, Faulmino’s injury came against Padua. She was running by the defense before she was tackled from behind.

She spent the first part of her rehab with physical therapist Glenn Brown in Dover. When she arrived at Delaware she started doing workouts with Panella under the eyes of the UD training staff.

“It was definitely better than going through it alone,” Faulmino said.

And since she couldn’t practice last fall, Faulmino said she spent her time observing what the coaching staff wanted out of the newcomers and learning about the team’s gameplans so she could be ready for those expectations at the start of this season.

Spring practice not only helped knock the rust off, but it served as a reminder to Faulmino that the surgery was a success, her knee has fully healed and is still strong. She’s back to playing like she did before the tear.

Grzenda hopes the experience of the redshirt year and the spring will have Faulmino ahead of the other players with freshman eligibility.

“Obviously you want her to play (last year) but I think she was able to grow mentally and physically during that time,” Grzenda said. “She’s got a spring season under her belt now. It won’t be until a couple games into the season that we see if she’s playing like a freshman or a sophomore.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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