Molly Miedema has been involved in some fierce collisions during her four years on the Spring Lake varsity girls soccer team.
It was a seemingly innocent play, in the middle of the field, with no contact whatsoever, that may keep her from playing in the biggest game of her life tonight.
Miedema tore the ACL — a major ligament in her left knee — in the closing minutes of the Lakers’ regional semifinal win over Grand Rapids Christian.
She tried to play in her team’s regional championship win over Plainwell, but couldn’t make it for more than a few minutes.
Now, the senior who hopes to continue her soccer career at Hope College will do her best to play in tonight’s Division 2 state semifinal game against Gull Lake. The contest at Plainwell High School begins at 6 p.m.
Whether or not she makes it onto the field depends on her parents, who have the final call in the matter.
“The ACL is torn all the way, so I can’t do any more damage, but my parents are worried that I could tear the meniscus, because those are more prone to get hurt,” Miedema said.
“I think they’ll let me play. I hope.”
Miedema hasn’t practiced since last Thursday’s regional championship win. Tuesday night, she met with former Laker Rachel Kilbry, who brought her a few knee braces specifically designed to help girls who suffered ACL tears.
“They get them fitted specially for your own knee, but it takes a week, a week and a half to get it, and I wouldn’t have it in time for the game,” Miedema said. “I have one from a Grand Haven girl who tore her ACL. I’m going to try to play on it, if my parents let me, because this won’t let my knee move side to side. It gives you more support.”
Miedema was hurt when she tried to make a quick cut in the middle of the field against Grand Rapids Christian. At the time, she didn’t know the severity of her injury.
“I was running back to defend their No. 14, their good forward, and I planted the foot around the ball,” she said. “I twisted around and I think my foot was still in place. I felt it pop, and I was like, ‘This can’t be good.’ I didn’t think it was my ACL. It didn’t hurt that bad. When I walked off the field, it just felt super lose.”
“I was freaking out, hoping that it was not too serious, and I was glad there was only 3 minutes left in the game.”
Miedema had her knee checked out by a doctor after the game, and the consensus was her knee felt “tight,” which is a positive sign.
On Thursday, she tried to play against Plainwell.
“I played the first 10 minutes and felt fine,” she said. “I got subbed out, then when I went back in, it gave out on me, and I didn’t go back in until the second half. I was in for 10 seconds and it gave out again, and (coach Jeremy) Thelen subbed me out right away.”
Miedema didn’t play the rest of the second half or overtime, but when it came time for the shootout, the Lakers’ senior wouldn’t be denied.
“I took some practice kicks with Nora (Reed) and it felt fine, because it’s my plant foot that’s injured. I just set it down straight and kicked. When I was told I was going to shoot the PK, I was really nervous. I was thinking, I have to do this for the team, otherwise I didn’t help the team at all. I’m glad we all made our shots and we won the game.”
On Saturday, Miedema had an MRI, and later that day, learned that she had suffered an ACL tear.
“I have surgery scheduled for Monday, and it’s a six-month recovery time,” she said.
That will make for a bummer of a summer with a bulky knee brace slowing her down, but for now, Miedema’s only worried about tonight.
“It really sucks, but I’m really happy we’ve made it this far,” she said. “We’re the first team to win regional finals and to make it to the state semifinals. This is terrible timing, but it happens for a reason.”