When Commack’s Katie Kelly fell to the field in agonizing pain during a May lacrosse game, it was difficult for her not to assume the worst.
She looked up, and by the distressed looks from teammates, coaches and trainers, Kelly knew her junior season was over. But she was worried about her athletic future beyond that.
“When I got hurt, everyone had the odds that it was going to be my ACL,” Kelly said, “and season ending for my senior year.”
Kelly was initially devastated but tried her best to remain composed until test results came back. A standout three-sport athlete, Kelly looked forward to her senior year, and in a moment, all of that seemed to be taken away. Until Kelly received the news she hoped for: She’d be back on the field her senior season.
“I tried to stay as positive as I could until the MRI came, but the look on everyone’s faces kind of gave it away that it was going to be bad,” Kelly said. “But the MRI proved everyone wrong and I was really grateful for it and I knew when I got a chance out here, I had to make the most of it.”
And Kelly, who said she suffered a sprained MCL and a bad pulled hamstring in May, has done exactly that, rehabilitating her injury over the summer and regaining the strength to return for the week of tryouts. The senior, who had 11 goals last season, scored in Commack’s 3-0 home victory over Sachem North Wednesday in its Suffolk I girls soccer opener.
“Character of a lion,” coach Tracie Morenberg said. “Even though she’s carrying around this 15-pound brace, she’s still going to play her hardest and work through everything and it shows.”
But Wednesday wasn’t all about Kelly, as Abby Meneses scored two goals on free kicks, and assisted on Kelly’s goal in the victory. Meneses, a sophomore, scored on a pair of free kicks from 25 yards out -- the first with 16:06 remaining in the first half and the second with 33:26 left in the second half to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead.
“It gives me so much more confidence that I can help the team and people will rely on me and see me like this,” Meneses said. “Especially with all the talented upperclassmen.”
Morenberg said despite Meneses’ young age, she’s earned the trust from her teammates, especially when taking free kicks.
“If you look at her, she’s not frazzled much,” Morenberg said. “She’s definitely cool and calm under pressure and she does a fantastic job stepping up.”
And Kelly, who was on varsity as a sophomore, loves seeing Meneses playing with confidence.
“It’s nice to see that someone younger can put the team on their back, even as a sophomore, that’s pretty impressive,” Kelly said. “I remember being that young and looking up to all the seniors and I could make a difference here and she did today. It was her day.”
With the help of a backline featuring Violet Ferraro, Caroline Kelly, Jaclyn Jackowski and Gabriella DiMauro, and with Emma Lanza and Dana Perry in net, Commack looks to contend for a Suffolk AA championship. The Cougars enter the season with the No. 2 “power ranking” in Suffolk’s new league alignments.
And with Kelly back at full strength, she has her eyes on finishing her high school soccer career with a title. But first, she’s just happy to be back contributing on the field.
“It made it all worth it,” Kelly said. “Getting out here to play with my team, my sister and everyone I grew up with, it made everything worth it.”