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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Injured goalie still helps squad

    Injured junior goalkeeper McCall Smith congratulates junior defender Claire Bodiya (2) after a 2-0 victory over Oregon State last Sunday at Murphey Stadium. Smith is redshirting and sitting this season out but should be back at the start of next season.
    Injured junior goalkeeper McCall Smith congratulates junior defender Claire Bodiya (2) after a 2-0 victory over Oregon State last Sunday at Murphey Stadium. Smith is redshirting and sitting this season out but should be back at the start of next season.

    What happens when you’re in the process of successfully rebuilding a soccer program piece by piece and all of a sudden your base piece – the goalkeeper – is sidelined for an entire season with an escalating knee injury?

    If you are fourth-year UA head coach Dan Tobias, you make sure there is a replacement piece or two for that goalie, redshirting junior McCall Smith, to ensure the stability of this structure.

    Smith, the first player to give Tobias a verbal commitment, underwent surgery this past June to correct the pain in her left knee from increasing wear-and-tear issues.

    “”Without trying to sound like Dr. Tobias, she’s got a degenerative condition in her knee and it’s progressively gotten worse over time,”” Tobias said.

    Without the team’s regular netkeeper, who started in 21 games in each of the last two seasons, the Wildcats were looking to fall back on sophomore Devon Wharf, but just when things seemed like they couldn’t get any worse for the Arizona goaltending situation, they did.

    Wharf suffered a cracked bone in her foot prior to the start of the season.

    “”She’s been recently cleared to practice, so she’s training and looking good,”” Tobias said of Wharf.

    Through the first 13 games of the season, Smith has worked on getting stronger for next season, watching her replacement, third-tier goalie Chelsea McIntyre.

    McIntyre, a sophomore, has helped the Wildcats to a an 8-5 record, including 1-1 in the Pacific 10 Conference, by allowing only 11 goals and recording five shutouts, the most recent Sunday against Oregon State.

    She was also named to Soccer Buzz’s Elite Team of the Week and the Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week for play during the week of Sept. 4 after shutting out Gonzaga Sept. 8 and Hawaii Sept. 10.

    “”It’s good to see Chelsea out there,”” Smith said. “”Obviously it’s hard because I want to be playing, but she’s a great person to have out there, and she’s doing a great job.””

    Filling such an important role, McIntyre has felt virtually no pressure from her fellow teammates; instead the pressure comes from within, she said.

    “”I wanted to make a difference,”” she said. “”I wanted to show the team that I can live up to the high standards.””

    The key to do that is to stay healthy, breaking the pattern of injury among goaltenders on the team.

    Thus McIntyre goes through a rigorous icing procedure after nearly every practice and game. Ice packs are taped to her lower back, hips, butt and knees.

    “”Lately my hips have been bothering me,”” she said, “”so I’m just trying to stay healthy so I can play. Staying healthy is the key to being a goalie right now.””

    No one knows this better than Smith, who is in the process of rehabilitating for next season.

    Time and cardiovascular exercise are the two halves that make up her personal reconstruction. Riding a bike, using a Stairmaster or Elliptical machine and any light weight-lifting that doesn’t cause heavy impact to the knee are all part of Smith’s repertoire.

    “”I know I won’t be back playing until next season,”” she said, “”so I’m just taking things really slow to make sure everything is healed 100 percent.””

    Although she has lightly taken some shots in the net to get back into things, Smith said that she is not yet diving, running or high jumping for balls.

    But just because she won’t suit up for the Wildcats until next season doesn’t mean that she isn’t part of the team anymore.

    “”McCall is still a great leader out there,”” Tobias said. “”The players and coaching staff still have a ton of respect for her, and she’s an important part of our team.””

    Following Arizona’s 2-0 win over the Beavers on Sunday, Smith could be easily spotted with a huge smile on her face as she high-fived and played around with some of her teammates.

    “”The physical part of coming back is going to be the hardest part for me,”” she said. “”Just getting back to game-ready status and physical instinct. But mentally, that’s where I know I’m not going to fail.””

    Outside of having a replacement in front of the net, it may seem like Smith never left the field when she returns.

    “”Physically, my knee might not work out,”” she said, “”but mentally I’m still strong and sound.””

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