Justin Mabus was one of two Towson freshmen named to the Colonial Athletic Association’s All-Rookie team, joining defenseman Jojo Ostrander when the announcement was made May 4.
What’s remarkable about that accomplishment is that Mabus earned it despite being hobbled by a groin injury.
The midfielder said he injured his groin during the week of preparation leading to the season opener at Jacksonville on Feb. 11. Mabus, who has consulted multiple doctors and plans to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam this week, said he thought the pain would eventually face, but it did not.
“There were times when I’d come in and I needed to sit out a practice,” he said Tuesday morning. “I’ve even had to pull myself out of a game because I was in so much pain. I tried so hard to just forget about it and play my game. Sometimes it limited me, and sometimes I was able to fight through it.”
But Mabus said he declined suggestions to miss games to help heal the groin, and coach Shawn Nadelen said the team tried to aid him by shifting him from midfield to attack to cut down on the amount of dodging Mabus would usually do.
“We could obviously tell in practice and in games that he didn’t have the ability to get away from people and dodge up at the midfield,” Nadelen said. “So we tried to give him some more space behind the cage at the attack position. He’s still very green in that area, but he just wanted to be out there. He knew he was going to be an important piece to the team. … He’s a heck of a competitor, and we’re fortunate the injury didn’t get worse.”
Despite being hobbled, Mabus finished second among the Tigers in assists with 11 and tied for sixth in points with 15. Named the conference’s Rookie of the Week twice, Mabus said he didn’t anticipate those numbers in his first foray in college athletics.
“In the fall, I didn’t think I was going to see much playing time. I was on the third line,” he recalled. “Then we hit some bumps on the road and people started getting injured or whatnot. I had to elevate my game, and I guess I did that, and the coaches liked how I performed and they gave me a chance. I took advantage of that, and from then on, I’ve been a pretty big part of this offense. I thank my teammates for helping me get here because I couldn’t do it without them.”