Posted: Apr. 29, 2017 6:15 pm Updated: Apr. 29, 2017 10:05 pm
QUINCY — There wasn’t much contact, certainly not enough to draw a foul.
Although McKenzie Foley awkwardly fell after getting bumped by a Beardstown defender, there was no need for the Quincy Notre Dame girls soccer team’s coaching staff or any fans to cringe, react or expect an official’s whistle.
But they all held their breath for a split second.
Foley popped up, got back in the play and eventually scored before sitting the final 20 minutes of another lopsided victory.
One bump wasn’t going to keep the senior forward down.
As she will tell you, all is well.
“There’s little plays where I tweak it a little bit,” Foley said of the left knee that was surgically repaired last year and kept her from playing soccer her junior season. “It’s scary, but I can’t play in fear.
“I just kind of shake it off and say a little prayer real quick. I know it will be OK no matter what.”
By now, there is no other choice.
Foley has undergone three knee surgeries — two on her right knee and one on her left — and hadn’t played soccer since her freshman season because of injuries suffered playing basketball for the Lady Raiders.
She tore the medial collateral ligament in her right knee in 2015 while playing in the Galesburg Tournament. A year later, almost to the day and in the same tournament, she tore the anterior cruciate ligament and the MCL in her left knee.
Both years, soccer season was lost to surgeries and rehabilitation.
“That was painful,” she said.
Wanting the opportunity to finish her high school career on the field, not the sideline, led to a necessary but tough choice not to play basketball last winter so she would be fully healthy this spring.
“I didn’t know if I’d be ready for soccer,” said Foley, who returned from the injury to serve as the starting libero for the volleyball team last fall. “It means everything that I was able to heal up fast for volleyball last fall, take a season off from basketball and be back out here.
“It was a sacrifice giving up basketball, but that means I get to play soccer. That means so much to me.”
She’s taking full advantage of it.
Foley scored a hat trick in Friday’s 4-2 victory over Ames (Iowa) in the Tournament of Champions in Burlington, Iowa, and netted the lone goal in Saturday’s 1-0 victory against Wheaton (Ill.) St. Francis.
She has 20 goals and seven assists, already matching her goal total from her freshman year.
“I was a little nervous in the beginning of the season because I didn’t know how my knee would feel,” Foley said. “Right now, I’m feeling really good. I’m feel really sturdy. I’m not nervous at all. It feels good to be back out there.”
Her presence at the top of the attack is valuable.
“We look like a more confident team on he attack with McKenzie in the mix,” QND coach Mark Longo said. “She knows how to make those around her better.”
Two years spent watching from the sideline…