WORCESTER — Injuries can make or break a season for an athlete; you can either stay in the game playing through the pain, have a quick recovery, or be forced out of the competition. As a sophomore midfielder, Jake Vana faced this difficult reality when he broke his left hand right before the St. John’s Prep lacrosse team started its playoff run.

Vana beat the odds of his injury just in time, strapped up his laces, and hit the field on Tuesday evening for the Division 1 state championship game between the Eagles and rival Boston College High. The Prep secured its third ever championship victory with an 11- 5 win and the returning sophomore had no small hand in the win.

With a cast still on his hand, Vana aided his team with two assists in the third quarter and whipped an unassisted goal of his own in the fourth. As the third leading scorer on the Eagles’ team, his teammates were grateful to have him back out on the field.

“Jake Vana came and stepped up off an injury, he had a really good game and helped put some goals in the net when we needed them the most,” Vana’s teammate, Jimmy Ayers praised.

Vana broke his third metacarpal in his left hand during his final regular-season match-up against Billerica. After diagnosis, doctors were unsure if he would be able to make it back to the field so late in the season. After taking three weeks off, Vana sprinted across the field like rapid-fire, always putting himself in position to help his teammates.

“I still have to wear a cast on my hand, and it did eliminate some mobility, but it was enough to have the doctor let me play,” Vana said.

Within the first 14 seconds of the third quarter, Vana found freshman Will Sawyer, propelling a perfect pass to Sawyer as he struck the back of Boston College High’s net. The momentous tally sparked up the St. John’s Prep in the decisive third quarter after the match was even (4-4) at halftime.

Vana whipped another pass to teammate Charlie Wilmot who slung another goal for the Prep towards the end of the quarter. The sophomore did not stop there as he found the back of the net himself unassisted within the last five minutes of the fourth quarter, tallying the Prep’s eighth goal of the match and essentially sealing the back-to-back championship.

It was fate for Vana to be back out on the field with his team and after several checkups and appointments, he was able to get cleared just the practice before the big championship game. Head coach John Pynchon was pleased with how Vana brought his all the to the field and knew he wouldn’t disappoint.

“Jake is an incredibly special player, he broke his hand, and we weren’t sure if he would be able to come back. They said the recovery wasn’t where it needed to be last week, he went in on Monday got a different cast, and was ready to go. He is a three-sport starter, and incredibly tough, it was huge to have him back,” Pynchon said.

Smiles and cheers leaving the field, Vana celebrated his team’s success all season long, excited to bring home the championship title for the second time these past two seasons (and third personally, since he helped the Eagle hockey team win it all a few months ago).

“This was all my teammates and coaches supporting me, I was a little nervous going into the game, I didn’t want to rebreak it. They had trust in me, and my teammates put me in good spots in order to succeed, I can’t thank them enough,” said Vana.

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