Arnold Overcomes Odds In Sophomore Season

#6 Katie Arnold
#6 Katie Arnold

BROCKTON, Mass. ---- March 28, 2014 was not a day that Massasoit women's soccer player Katie Arnold would like to remember.

It was day the Arnold, from Weymouth, had surgery after tearing both her ACL and MCL ligaments in her left knee.

Three weeks prior, Arnold was playing on an indoor soccer team with many of her current teammates. During a game at the Bridgewater Dome, Arnold heard a noise and felt a sharp pain.

"I heard (my knee) snap, so that freaked me out and I couldn't walk," Arnold said. "Then after a few days it started to get a little better. But then my whole calf swelled up so I figured I should go to the doctor's office to get it checked out."

An MRI revealed that Arnold had torn both her ACL and MCL and it looked as though her 2014 season would be lost.

Prior to surgery, Arnold worked with Massasoit Athletic Trainer Pam Regan. The goal was to stretch and strengthen the ligaments around the knee to help speed up the recovery process.

"She didn't wait for the surgery and then started rehabbing," Regan said. "We did an extensive rehab before surgery, which I think definitely helped her recovery rate."

As a freshman, Arnold had been a standout on the pitch for the Warriors playing anywhere and everywhere. She was positioned both as a defender and as a forward, netting two goals and dishing out four assists en route to earning All-Region XXI First Team honors in 2013.

But for the 2014 season it appeared Arnold would be watching from the sidelines. And at first, that is where she sat.

In Massasoit's first game against Tompkins Cortland CC, the sophomore sat on the bench as the Warriors dropped the season opener 5-1.

Arnold had been so antsy to play she had her 6-month post-surgery appointment moved up 26 days to see where she was in her recovery.

"I was so anxious," she said. "Everyone at the doctor's office could tell I was very anxious. Once they started the process of checking my knee I felt a little more confident, because the doctors kept saying how impressed they were with where my knee was at, since I had just passed my five-month-mark."

Over the previous five months, Arnold had been spending time rehabbing two to three times a week in addition to doing work outs on her own. Her hard work and determination would pay off.

September 2, 2014, is a day that Arnold will also always remember with a grin. It was the day she was cleared to return to the soccer field. Just over five months from the day she had undergone knee surgery, Arnold would be back practicing with her teammates with a knee brace.

"It was such a relief," she said. "I couldn't be any happier. The doctor came in and said 'You are all set to play, just make sure you are careful.'"

In her first game of the season against Essex County on Sept. 6, Arnold was back in the starting lineup for the Warriors.

"I was so excited that day," she said. "I was named captain so I was already happy and to get out and play being on the defensive line after being cleared was an amazing feeling."

With the quick recovery time from Arnold she has been a steady outside back for first-year head coach Jim Stapleton. She has started all 14 matches as a defender since missing the opening game and scored a goal against Bunker Hill on Sept. 29.

Regan, who has observed Arnold on the sidelines at home games, has been amazed with the sophomore's improvement and quick recovery.

"It's extremely impressive," Regan said. "Typically a post-surgery ACL rehab takes anywhere from eight to 12 months. Obviously you hear cases of it earlier, six to eight months, but that's a professional athlete. Katie definitely defied all odds."

During Regan's career as an athletic trainer, she has worked with athletes at all levels including Providence College, Fairfield University, semipro football and high school, and had never seen a recovery as quick as Arnold's.

"She was back before six months, which is remarkable," Regan said. "And she is back healthy before six months. Not at 80 percent, she was back healthy. That's the fastest recovery I've ever seen. But that's the kind of kid Katie is…a competitor. She gets knocked over and I take a deep breath every time she does but she gets back up and starts chugging and she keeps going. She has amazed me."

Arnold has been a mainstay at left fullback that has seen the Warriors total six shutouts on the season and post a 9-6 record for the season. The sophomore has played all season with a brace and with each match feels more and more like her old self.

"The brace isn't much of a thought anymore," she said. "At first I didn't think I would be able to wear it all season. Now it doesn't bother me. I'm definitely getting more confident and not as afraid to go hard at the ball or at someone."

Massasoit hopes that Arnold and her teammates will showcase confidence in a Region XXI Championship rematch against Holyoke CC this Saturday. The game in Holyoke, Mass., is scheduled for 11:30 a.m.