Chloe Lawler

Chloe Lawler verbally committed March 18 to continue her soccer career at NCAA Division I Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, on a partial athletic and academic scholarship.

Chloe Lawler is a fighter.

The Lower Cape May Regional High School girls soccer player continually proves that on and off the field.

And that never-quit attitude earned the junior an opportunity that few receive.

Lawler verbally committed March 18 to continue her soccer career at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, on a partial athletic and academic scholarship.

She plans to major in biology and earn a graduate degree in medical school.

The 16-year-old from Cape May will sign a national letter of intent as a senior in November.

“I went to campus in February, and it really was a no-brainer,” Lawler said. “I really enjoyed the campus and the coaches. I really enjoyed the company, and I felt like I belonged there. I am really excited about it.”

Lawler tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee midway through her sophomore season in 2018. Before the injury, she had scored six goals and added three assists in 10 games.

The rehabilitation process was not easy.

“I had to have two surgeries,” Lawler said. “Something just went wrong during physical therapy after my first (surgery).”

But Lawler overcame the adversity and put together a solid junior season.

The forward scored a team-leading 15 goals and added five assists for the Caper Tigers (3-15-1), including a two-goal performance in a season-opening 6-0 victory over Pleasantville on Sept. 8.

“When I initially went back, I thought I would be nervous,” Lawler said. “But once I got back out there, I was really excited and played with tenacity. I was really excited to be out there again.”

Last season, Old Dominion finished 10-4-4 (4-4-2 Conference USA) under sixth-year head coach Angie Hind. The Monarchs, an NCAA Division I program, recorded five shutouts and posted a 5-2-2 record on the road.

Old Dominion last finished under .500 in 2016.

“It is a great program that I am walking into,” Lawler said. “I am grateful for that. The program is all about hard work, and I want to just match all the passion that the other girls have. I want to continue to better myself and help the team out.

“After going to the campus, the vibe really matched my vibe. I want to contribute to the team and contribute to the school.”

Brett Matthews, who had coached Lawler since she was a freshman, resigned as the Caper Tigers’ coach in November after nine seasons at the helm. Lower athletic director Erik Simonsen said the position has yet to be filled.

Matthews, however, was pleased to hear that Lawler committed to Old Dominion.

“She is an unbelievable player,” Matthews said. “She would be a perfect asset for any college program. She has tremendous athletic ability, and anyone that watches her play can see how talented she really is.”

Matthews named Lawler a team captain as a sophomore in 2018. The former coach said she was the youngest player he ever made captain.

Losing her to injury that season was a huge loss to the team, he said.

“She is a tremendous leader on the team,” Matthews said. “She sets a perfect example to the rest of the team. The younger kids look up to her and her work ethic. She is always working hard, even after practice. She is really dedicated to the sport. She is a really good kid.”

Lawler, who also received interest from Drexel and Fordham, also plays basketball at Lower. She did not play this winter because she wanted to be sure her knee was well-rested for club soccer and senior seasons.

But she plans to play basketball as a senior.

“I hope I do well (at Old Dominion),” Lawler said. “Going through my injury, I know what hard work is like. With the atmosphere there and all the really great athletes, I think that will only help push me.”

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