There's nothing more frustrating than getting hurt right before tournament time, just as Brittany Bock did.
Bock injured her knee in Notre Dame's 2-0 win over Marquette in the Big East semifinals, and there was a chance that it could have been the last game of her Irish career. But the Irish co-captain is no stranger to injury and overcoming it both mentally and physically.
"It's definitely frustrating," Bock said. "I was injured last spring and then I hurt my ankle in the preseason [this year] and now I have this. This one was devastating, in a way, because I didn't know how long I'd be out. But I've worked hard to get back. And this team is a super close group and my teammates have been telling me, 'We're not going to let you sit on the bench for your last game.'"
As it turned out, the Marquette game wasn't the last time Bock would wear her No. 10 Irish jersey. Bock took the field again last Friday to help Notre Dame defeat Florida Sate 2-0 and secure a spot in the College Cup.
Bock didn't score either of the goals against Florida State, but her value is measured in more than just statistics. Playing as both a forward and a midfielder, Bock is a leader on both ends of the field. Her physical style of play and ability to turn a game in Notre Dame's favor are what make here the glue of the top-ranked Irish.
"We're a country of stats, we love stats," Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. "But there are a few players that always just make a team click. Britt has epitomized that. She's just so physical for us."
Despite returning from injury, that physical style of play has never left Bock - that was evident as soon as she stepped on the field against Florida State.
"I was a little nervous coming back after the four games that I'd missed," Bock said. "Coach asked me during practice if I was confident I could play and I told him yes. I was still iffy during practice but I think in the first 10 seconds of the game, I tackled a girl. Then I think [I tackled someone] 10 times after that."
A spot in the Final Four only helped fuel the fire for Bock. The forward, along with classmates like Carrie Dew, was a senior in high school when Notre Dame last won the national title. Now, the seniors want one to call their own.
And with that chance, the Irish aren't taking any risks. Tournament play means a slower game and lower scores, games when deadball situations can send anyone packing. The Irish are grateful Bock is back.
"Britt's such a key for us," Waldrum said. "We're a different kind of team without her ... Britt adds another dimension to us, especially in the air on deadball situations and corner kicks."
It just might be one of those situations that Bock will take to the bank, and all the way to her class's first National Championship.