By Daniel Wallace
As the ball went over the goalkeeper’s outstretched arms and into the back of the net, junior midfielder Larissa Campos finally had her confidence fully restored. It was a confidence she had been in search of for nearly two full years, battling a long, painful recovery from a torn ACL.
The goal that restored her confidence came on Sept. 16 against the Texas A&M Aggies in College Station and tied the game at 1-1. Campos said that after an injury of that magnitude, the toughest thing was to regain confidence in herself back. She now has that confidence back.
“It was special,” she said. “It was kind of the cake on top of a really good season so far. It’s hard coming back from an injury like that. Bringing that confidence back is really the last step of recovering fully from an ACL. That goal was definitely my confidence maker.”
She tore her ACL in a game against Kansas in 2009 as a freshman. Campos said she went into the game with around 15 minutes left in the first half. What would happen when she touched the ball in the game would change the course of her collegiate career.
“The first touch I took, I took a hard touch down line, planted to cross the ball, decided last minute that I was going to cut back instead, but my body wasn’t really in tune with my mind,” she said. “My left leg just kind of collapsed on me.”
Campos said when she fell to the ground, she knew immediately something was wrong because she heard a loud snap. She feared she had broken her left leg; tests revealed a torn ACL. She had surgery in November 2009 and was recovering well until May of 2010 when she started experiencing extension problems in her left leg. That led to her second surgery, where it was determined there was immense scar tissue built up underneath her kneecap, restricting the ACL from going where it should when she straightened her leg.
By the time the 2010 rolled around, Campos had decided to redshirt her sophomore year in order for the knee to completely heal. In November of that year, Campos received her third surgery to repair the knee. She had been experiencing pain in the front of her knee that shot down to her toes and gave her a tingling sensation all over. The third surgery removed neuromas in her knee, which she described as “little nerve ball that just bundle up over time after surgeries.” Her body was rejecting one of the screws that was put in her knee during the first surgery.
Her road to recovery has served as inspiration to sophomore midfielder Karlee Summey.
“Larissa is such an inspirational player just because of her injury,” she said. “She always has had such a passion for soccer. That passion just encourages our team. She’s such an inspiration to our team. She has great leadership qualities, just always positive, and is a great player.”
Sophomore forward Vic Hoffman said Campos is dedicated to the game and admires that she researches soccer and is in continual pursuit of knowledge for the game.
“She’s hilarious and she loves soccer more than anyone else I’ve ever seen,” she said. “She’s one of the players who knows the game just as well the coaches.”
Head coach Marci Jobson dealt with the same injury in her career and thus has a great respect for how Campos dealt with the injury and the complexities of the recovery.
“It’s a long road,” she said. “You always question whether you will be the same player again. Larissa has had to fight with those demons. She’s kept a really positive attitude. She’s kept hard working in practice. I was just really proud of her for that moment, that she was able to have that.”
What separates Larissa on the field is her vision, skillfulness, and passing skills, her teammates and coach said. The Aurora, Colo., native is thankful for the lessons she learned through her injury and recovery process.
“Patience and faith can go a long way,” she said. “You really have to rely on the people around you to get through the tough times.”