Her mother cried in the stands.
Shortly after Devin Zavasky scored what turned out to be a game-winning goal in the ECNL North American Championships earlier this month in Richmond, Va., tears of joy and relief flowed from Judy Zavasky. But you can understand why.
Devin spent a year recovering from a devastating but equally freakish right knee injury that cost her sophomore year in soccer at Carroll.
“It was a great feeling,” Zavasky said of the goal. “I feel like I’m there.”
Those are important words not only for her to say, but as well as for her club team (U16 Silver Trophy) and the Lady Dragons soccer program to hear. Zavasky has cleared the mental hurdles that also come with a major injury.
Zavasky’s unexpected journey began on July 7, 2013. During a scrimmage against an older club team, she went in the air to make a crossing pass and felt a pop. The leg didn’t hold and she crumpled to the ground. But she got up and walked it off, thinking it wasn’t serious.
“It was just a normal kick,” she said. “I’ve done that so many times.”
No one else considered it a major incident either as Zavasky continued to go through practices with the freedom to move. However, she realized something wasn’t right during a family beach vacation. While on the surfboard, she said the pain started to become more pronounced. Swelling followed.
A doctor’s visit later not only revealed the ACL tear but enough damage to the posterior cruciate ligament – an injury that occurred in eighth grade – where both needed to be repaired. Surgery followed on Aug. 19. While it was successful, Zavasky realized she would spend 2013-2014 as a spectator.
“It was awful,” Zavasky said. “I was so upset. You get into this mindset that you have coaches and players believing in you and counting on you. Then this happens and you can’t do anything about it. You know it’s a 10-12-month recovery. But I made a goal that I was going to be playing by the ECNL regional tournament Seattle so I could help us get to nationals.”
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Zavasky stayed on schedule. Doctors cleared her to straight-line running after six months. In the meantime, she cheered on Carroll as the Lady Dragons advanced to the Class 5A Region I finals in April.
April turned into June, when she was released to play soccer in a non-contact manner while wearing a brace. That’s when fighting the yips appeared.
“The first practice was pretty nerve-wracking,” Zavasky said. “I knew I wasn’t in shape and that I could only be on the field for about 10-15 minutes. I just had to keep going out there and doing it. I would feel that way every practice. But now, I feel confident that the knee is fine.
In storybook fashion, the club team wound up winning the national tournament. Zavasky’s return to the Carroll program should give head coach Matt Colvin some possibilities. While she typically fits at forward or center midfielder, her versatility will be a plus when her junior year begins.
“Devin’s athleticism, comfort on the ball and ability to create chances will certainly help us,” Colvin said. “Her versatility will benefit the group as she is an impact centrally and in wide positions.”