EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 3, 2012

Sanborn's Smith faced with ACL recovery before heading to Division 1 Bryant

By Christopher Smith

---- — Abby Smith committed to play college soccer at Bryant University in July, becoming the first Sanborn Regional girls soccer player ever to obtain a scholarship from a Division 1 program.

With her college decision behind her, she was eager to play one final season for the Indians.

But then things took a turn for the worst.

“It was our first jamboree game of the high school season,” Smith said. “The ball was bouncing right in front of me. We were playing on turf. So I planted my right foot and I swung my left leg up in the air, trying to kick the ball. And I just felt my whole body twist to the right but my lower leg stayed facing forward. And it popped and it was really scary.”

Smith had torn the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee. Her senior season was finished before it had really even begun.

“I was just laying on the ground and really afraid to move,” she said. “I was just devastated because I knew I did something awful to my knee. I was hoping it wasn’t my ACL. It was really upsetting.”

Smith has tried to stay positive. She is helping coach her team. And she is 100 percent sure she will be ready to play at the start of next season for Bryant. She has received more than a half-scholarship to Bryant.

Smith, who also was an indoor and spring track runner at Sanborn, is scheduled to undergo ACL surgery tomorrow.

“This is my first major injury that I’ve had so it’s pretty tough to deal with,” Smith said.

Smith has attended every Sanborn practice and game so far.

“Just to help out coaching really because that’s all I can do,” she said.

Smith was going to play forward this year. She has played every position throughout her soccer career and was recruited as a defender.

“It’s definitely frustrating but I’ve kept in mind that the most important thing is to have a good attitude about it,” Smith said. “That’s what helps it the most — even more than physically making it stronger. I just need to think that everything will work and I will be good to go by college preseason.”

Smith has undergone some pre-surgery physical therapy. She plans to start physical therapy up again the day after her surgery. She knows it will be a long recovery because her father Bob Smith tore the ACL in both his knees while playing sports.

“So he’s taught me a lot about it and is really helping me,” said Smith, who has played for the Seacoast United club soccer since she was 8.

Bob said that Abby has worked quite hard throughout her soccer career and he, therefore, has no doubt she will work just as hard to return to the field in time for her freshman year at Bryant.

“She’s very focused,” Bob said. “I could tell right away how she responded after the injury. She’s staying positive and she’s been doing her exercises on her own three times a day. So she’s working hard already to get back.”

Bob always has known her daughter has tremendous athletic ability.

“I remember her running races at school and beating the boys,” Bob said.

Smith certainly is honored she will be the first Sanborn soccer player at a Division 1 school.

“It’s so amazing,” she said. “I had no idea that I was the first. That’s a really awesome accomplishment, I think. And I definitely worked hard for it.”