Meg Dzialo was back with the Winnacunnet High School girls soccer team for Tuesday’s Division I home game against Dover.
Sure, the senior striker had been on the bench and cheering on her Warrior teammates since tearing her UCL and suffering a microfracture in her left elbow in the first home game of the season back on Sept. 6 against Merrimack.
However, this time, just three weeks after the injury, Dzialo, wearing a large protective pad on her elbow, was back on the field with her teammates — and she couldn’t have been any happier.
“It was very hard for me sitting on the bench every day, especially because we had two overtime games that I was not able to play in,” Dzialo said.
In total, Dzialo missed five games, including Friday’s 2-1, gut-wrenching loss to Exeter.
“Not being able to play in my last Exeter game, that was pretty rough,” Dzialo said. “It was sad and hard to watch, but I just cheered on my teammates as much as I could.”
Dzialo met with her doctor on Monday and got clearance, with warning, that she could resume playing soccer.
“My doctor said there were risks to playing, but I really wanted to play and be a part of this team,” Dzialo said.
The hard part for Dzialo, a starter with the Winnacunnet girls lacrosse team, was convincing her mother.
“She was the one I had to convince most,” Dzialo laughed. “Lacrosse is my main sport, but I love soccer just as much. It scares me because if I fall on it again I could tear it completely and need surgery, and could be out for lacrosse, which would be bad.”
Once Dzialo got the green light from her mother, she sought out Winnacunnet girls soccer coach Nick O’Brien.
“He was extremely excited, he was shocked,” Dzialo said. “He said you may not get much playing time at first, but we’ll get you in there.”
Dzialo had a couple of good looks at the goal on Tuesday, the first in the 44th minute as her attempt sailed high; the next came 2 minutes later. Jess Vogel sent a nice cross to the middle of the field toward a cutting Dzialo, whose header on the goal missed wide.
“It’s nice to have her back,” O’Brien said. “Hopefully, we can keep her healthy and we’ll get her minutes back slowly. Anytime we get a player back healthy certainly helps us; we’ve been riddled with injuries through these first nine games of the season.”
Winnacunnet senior goalie Emily Parks was put in a tough situation in the 67th minute of Tuesday’s match against Dover as the Green Wave were awarded with a penalty kick.
Lucy Tretter lined up the ball about 12 yards in front of Parks. Tretter, with her team trailing 2-0, fired a shot to the right of Parks and into the back of the net, putting Dover on the scoreboard.
“It’s tough, the goalie is put in a tough spot and if you come up with a save, you’re a hero,” said O’Brien, who estimated goalies save 30 percent of such shots. “If you strike a ball decently, you should be able to put it in.”
Winnacunnet is scheduled to travel to Keene today to face a Blackbirds team which has won five straight games after losing its first four.
“It should be a good one,” O’Brien said. “We’ll see.”
State of Division I
Bedford, Exeter and Manchester Central sit on top of the current Division I standings with each team sporting an 8-1 record. Winnacunnet and Londonderry are tied for fourth at 6-2-1, while Concord and Pinkerton are tied for sixth at 6-3.
The Warriors have seven games left in the regular season with road games at Keene, Manchester Memorial, Spaulding and Alvirne, and home dates with Nashua North, Pinkerton and Bishop Guertin.
Only Keene (5-4) and Pinkerton (6-3) are teams left on the Warriors schedule with winning records.
The other five future opponents have a combined record of 11-31-3.