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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Still standing

Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tim Glass
Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Arizona redshirt senior goalkeeper Devon Wharf has been a part of some of the greatest moments in the soccer program’s history, along with some of the worst.

Wharf’s freshman year at the UA started with a bang. As a member of the 2005 soccer team that made it to the Sweet 16 in the postseason tournament — the best team the soccer program has ever had — Wharf didn’t get a chance to play as a reserve behind then-sophomore McCall Smith.

Nonetheless, she was a part of the soccer program’s most historic season.

After Smith left the program following the team’s Sweet 16 appearance, then-sophomore Wharf knew that she would have a chance to compete for the starting goalkeeper position with fellow sophomore Chelsea McIntyre.

But before Wharf could get deep into the competition she broke her right foot, hindering her chances to start. Though only a minor setback, it was the beginning of an injury-riddled career.

Eventually Wharf, as a junior, made her way back to the field, making the first start of her career against Utah. Unfortunately, in that same game she tore her ACL in her right knee, which made it the third consecutive year that Wharf would not play.

“”It was difficult that she would come in very prepared and fit, then an injury comes in on top of that,”” said co-interim head coach Lisa Oyen. “”She is a very resilient, strong-willed person and she continued to fight through all the injuries.””

Wharf did fight through, but on her road to recovery tore the same ACL in the team’s last spring game, well before the start of the 2008 season.

“”I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? Why is this happening to me?'”” Wharf said. “”When I got my surgery and (the) pain started, I began to doubt whether I could continue to play soccer.””

Wharf redshirted in what would have been her senior year but wasn’t sure that she would use the one year of eligibility she still had. But with everyone in the soccer program urging her to return, she decided to battle through the injury one more time.

“”If it weren’t for the coaching staff and the trainers in McKale, I don’t think I would have been able to come back after my second ACL (injury),”” she said. “”The team was a huge help for me to come back. They supported me, and without them I don’t think I would have returned.””

Wharf mentioned teammates Samantha Drees and Alex Davis as people who kept her company after her second ACL surgery.

“”They were at my house like every other day,”” Wharf said. “”They were like, ‘Let’s make dinner; we’ll help you do whatever you want.'””

Both Drees and Davis have torn their ACLs before, so both knew what Wharf was going through at the time.

“”We built a bond when I was a freshman because I had an ACL injury and she had broken her foot, so we both wanted to fight through it together,”” Drees said.

Her fifth year with the Arizona program was Wharf’s first year of unhampered playing time. In those five seasons, she has only played in 15 career games, 14 of those coming this season. The redshirt senior missed one game this season against Loyola Marymount after hurting the same right knee in a prior game against Cal Poly.

“”I definitely walked off the field and every emotion was running through my head, and I’m crying thinking this can’t happen again,”” she said. “”All the memories of the injury started coming back.””

The extent of the knee injury isn’t known right now, but it’s clear that Wharf — walking with a noticeable limp and struggling to maneuver — is hurt. She now wears a brace and will probably take a further look at the injury at the season’s end.

Wharf had one of her best performances of the year last Friday in a 2-0 loss to Washington. Despite not playing until this year, she still has the experience of an upperclassman from playing with teammates in the spring and for the United Soccer League’s Vancouver Whitecaps.

“”I don’t care who you are; if you tear two ACLs, it takes a toll on you,”” said co-interim head coach John Galas. “”She’s been very committed to the program. She’s had an excellent attitude throughout the entire process. She wants to be on the field, and it takes a lot to keep her off the field.””

Realistically, if Wharf were an underclassman, she would probably be sitting out. But considering what she’s been through, the disappointments of years past will keep her on the field for the few games left in the season.

“”If I were a freshman, I would be more cautious. But being a senior, it gives me the drive to finish the season,”” she said.

Wharf initially had dreams of playing professional soccer after this season, but after reinjuring her knee she is unsure whether that will happen.

“”If you would have asked before I injured my knee, I would have said I would have wanted to play professional soccer,”” she said. “”But now it all depends if I need surgery at the end of the season, and I don’t know if my body will hold up on three surgeries.””

Despite being injury-prone throughout her Arizona career, Wharf is grateful for the relationships she’s built in the soccer program and being on the Sweet 16 team.

“”When it comes down to it, I’ve experienced so much with this team. Even though I didn’t play, I’ve been to the Sweet 16 with this program. No one else can say that except for the 2005 team,”” she said. “”It is about winning and losing, but it’s more about the bonds that I’ve built while at Arizona.””

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