Soccer: Long journey back – Cross’ return sparks Bridgeport

By Reece Waddell | Published Wednesday, March 7, 2018
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Maddie Cross

Maddie Cross. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

In a matter of seconds, Bridgeport junior Maddie Cross saw her soccer career flash before her eyes.

In a game against Venus as a freshman, Cross was sprinting down the left flank looking to cross the ball when a defender came barreling down on her. As the two collided, Cross somersaulted forward and landed awkwardly on her left knee.

Unable to put any weight on it, Cross was carried off the field by a trainer and immediately taken to the hospital.

At first, doctors thought she merely suffered a knee sprain. But an MRI revealed her injury was much worse than that.

Along with tearing her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), Cross also tore her medial collateral ligament (MCL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in her left knee.

“Honestly, I thought my soccer career was over,” Cross said. “For the first three to four months, I was so depressed that I never wanted to get out of bed. It was bad. I tore every ligament in my knee. My knee was gone.”

Two years later with Cross leading the way, the Bridgeport Sissies are in first place in District 3-4A as the regular season winds down. She has six goals and six assists.

Comeback Queen

COMEBACK QUEEN – Junior Maddie Cross kicks the ball upfield during a recent game. She has six goals and six assists this season. Photo Courtesy of Cindy Peavey. 

It was a long journey back to the field for Cross. Damaging all three ligaments left Cross with no stability in her knee. Doctors estimated it could take Cross anywhere from seven to eight months, or possibly longer, to fully recover.

“When she had her knee injury I just thought the worst,” said teammate Clara Ortiz. “And I shouldn’t have. I thought her knee was done for. I thought she couldn’t play soccer any more after that.

“It was pretty nerve racking because she’s one of our best players. Just seeing her go down like that, it made me really nervous.”

Wanting to get back on the field as soon as possible, Cross had surgery roughly one month after sustaining the injury.

Cross’ surgeons used a graft from her patellar tendon to restore her ACL and stitched her other partially torn ligaments back together. Her rehabilitation consisted of rigorous weight training to strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings and surrounding knee muscles.

Within a year, Cross was back on the field for her sophomore campaign. Then, the injury bug bit her again.

“I was playing Hirschi. It was the second game of district and I guess I hit my knee with this other girl. It bruised my kneecap really bad and bruised my patellar tendon,” Cross said. “I was back in my little straight leg [brace] and on crutches. They were like ‘Sorry, you’re out again.'”

The injury to the same knee she damaged the year before sidelined her for the remainder of last season.

“It was terrible,” Cross said. “I tried playing and I couldn’t even walk.”

Forced to spend the remainder of her sophomore season on the bench, Cross was determined to not let history repeat itself this year.

With some help from first-year head coach Lauren Kirby, Cross worked diligently in the offseason on various drills and techniques.

“Whenever I got here that was one of the first things she let me know, that she had an injury and was working to strengthen it,” Kirby said. “Her drive to be the best player she can be and to make sure she can get on that field is something truly awesome to watch. She wants to be that teammate her team can depend on.”

The work has paid dividends as was evident Friday. After falling behind 2-0 to the Lady Eagles, Cross made a run on the wing and crossed the ball into the box that was headed home for the equalizer.

“She does a really good job of finding those runs and using her speed to try and get around players,” Kirby said. “She’s doing a fantastic job of doing give-and-go’s with other forwards and center [midfielders]. She’s very tenacious. She’s willing to do whatever to make sure that ball goes in the back of the net.”

It’s been almost two years since Cross suffered her first season-ending knee injury. She said although the initial ACL, MCL and PCL tears were one of the most excruciating pains she has ever experienced, she was never willing to let it keep her off the field for good.

Cross knew she would find a way to get back on the pitch.

“I honestly thought this year going in I can’t let this happen again,” Cross said. “I’ve just worked harder. [I thought] hopefully this knee will be strong enough to where I can play. Over halfway through district and I’ve made it.”

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