There were two things Noelle Lambert said she never really doubted: that, in the instant after her moped accident, her left leg was ‘‘gone’’ and that she would play college lacrosse again.
Lambert, who attends UMass Lowell, described the horrific July 2016 accident in a Teen Vogue interview, telling how, on her first trip to Martha’s Vineyard, she and a friend rented a moped and, driving one for the first time, she ‘‘lost the steering. I veered left and went into a dump truck. I remember hitting it, and then being on the ground. I looked down at my leg, and it was gone,’’ she said. ‘‘Obviously, lacrosse was one of the first things I thought of, that I was never going to be able to play again.
‘‘The guy that was driving behind us was the first one to come toward me, and he took his shirt off and wrapped it around my leg, which basically saved my life, because I hit a major artery. I remember them saying, ‘Everything’s fine, you’re gonna be OK,’ and I said, ‘No, my leg is gone.’ ‘‘
Her friend and teammate Kelly Moran was riding on the back of the bike and she suffered torn ligaments in her foot and ankle, as well as cuts on her leg and a sprained knee. For Lambert, though, the story of her athletic career might have ended on that Vineyard road. As a 19-year-old whose life changed dramatically in that instant, she might have chosen a different direction, but instead she focused on doing ‘‘everything I can to get back out on the field.’’
‘‘I could walk maybe a quarter mile and I’d be out of breath and dying,’’ she told Teen Vogue. ‘‘They said the same thing when they gave me my ‘everyday’ leg. ‘It’s just going to click. You just have to do it.’ I thought, OK, now I really want to do this - prove to people that I can do this. Everyone said, ‘If someone were to do it, it would be you.’ ‘‘
On Saturday, ‘‘everyone’’ turned out to be right. Lambert, in her first game, scored in Lowell’s 16-1 victory over Hartford.
Lambert, in a 2017 interview with Lacrosse magazine, credited Moran (both women are from New Hampshire), coach Carissa Medeiros, and her family and friends with helping her recover.
‘‘I probably wouldn’t be where I’m at today without any of them,’’ Lambert, who scored 17 goals as a freshman, told Lacrosse. ‘‘I was never alone in the emergency room, in the hospital, in the rehab center. . . . I never had time to actually think and feel sorry for myself because I had people visiting me all the time and getting my spirits up. I think that really helped, and made me have the sense of humor that I have and the mind-set that I have moving forward and not making this define who I am.’’