This time last year, George Mason striker Katy Robertson was trying to hide. She was trying to hide an injury from East Carolina, her team's opponent in the first round of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament, and she was trying to hide from her parents and coaches that she feared her sprained knee might be worse than the initial diagnosis indicated.

Robertson lasted 12 minutes in the Patriots' 1-0 victory against East Carolina, and soon after an MRI showed a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee. Without its leading scorer, George Mason ended its season with a 2-0 loss to William & Mary in the next game.

Now a sophomore, Robertson cannot hide. She enters today's CAA tournament opener against UNC Wilmington in Virginia Beach as the nation's leading scorer with 57 points, on 22 goals and 13 assists. Yesterday, she was named first team all-CAA. Through a dedicated rehabilitation effort last winter, Robertson was able to return two months ahead of schedule from her second major knee injury in five years.

"The challenge for Katy this year was dealing with the fact that everyone knows who she is," Coach Jac Cicala said. "But she has become a more sophisticated player. She knows when to be selfish and when to read the game and find her teammates."

After tearing the ACL in her left knee as a freshman at Brookwood High outside Atlanta, Robertson said recovering from this injury was much easier.

"I knew what strains I would be able to put on my knee and when," Robertson said. "I basically went out and exhausted myself on a bike every day this winter. . . . Sometimes I wonder if I didn't tear my ACL, would I be quicker, but maybe I wouldn't be as eager to play this season."

Robertson has scored in all but five of George Mason's games this season. "She has certainly caused us a lot of problems," Richmond Coach Peter Albright said. "She is probably the most difficult player to defend, as an individual, that we have ever faced. The thing that sets her apart is her mental toughness. She is completely relentless."

Albright said that Robertson's presence alone makes fourth-seeded George Mason (9-10, 5-3) a candidate to win the tournament. But four Patriots players are injured and another, sophomore Jaime Wolff, must sit out the CAA opener after being ejected from Sunday's 4-3 overtime loss to Wisconsin.

Robertson said she would rather do without the acclaim she has received off the field recently.

"All my relatives have been calling to congratulate me, but it can only last until one of the other [top scorers] has a big game, so I can't live in that glory too long," Robertson said. "We still have a lot to accomplish as a team. It doesn't matter where I am [among the points leaders] until the season is over."

M. Washington Prepares

After winning its eighth Capital Athletic Conference championship in nine years, Mary Washington will start NCAA Division III tournament play Saturday at 1:30 p.m. with a Southeast Regional semifinal game against Denison at Lynchburg (Va.) College.

The regional final is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m., with the winner advancing to the Division III quarterfinals. The Eagles (12-4) made the quarterfinals each of the past two seasons.

"We are very young this year--we have nine new players--so advancing in the tournament will be more difficult," Coach Kurt Glaeser said. "But I don't think we are weak anywhere. We have a balanced attack, with seven or eight players with 10 points or more."

In the CAC final last Saturday, junior midfielder Ellen Anderson (Chantilly) scored both goals in a 2-1 victory over Salisbury State.