Opila and Bubley work back from major knee injuries
By Kyle LoJacono
When the Steinbrenner girls soccer team won the Class 4A state title last season, it helped light a competitive fire under two players watching from the sidelines.
Marley Opila and Lexy Bubley had the unusual situation of accepting a state championship medal after not seeing the field during any of the playoffs.
Bubley, a defender, tore the ACL in her right knee just before the postseason began last year. Opila, a midfielder, suffered the same injury to her left knee a week before the first practice of the 2010-11 season.
“It was really hard watching and knowing I wasn’t a part of it,” Opila said. “It made me want to work harder so we can get another state title where I can actually help the team get it.”
Bubley added, “When you’re sitting on the bench watching everyone work to get better and you can tell they’re all having fun, that was the most difficult thing to watch. Just in practice wishing I could go run around with everyone. I felt so separate.”
Both players worked to get back strong for this season, and both said they are 100 percent healthy again. However, they will not be playing on the same field — except when Steinbrenner plays Gaither.
Opila is back with the Warriors, but Bubley is now suiting up with the Cowboys. Bubley attended Gaither during her freshman and sophomore years.
Cowboys coach Trevor Scott is more than happy to have Bubley’s physical defense back on Gaither’s backline.
“She hasn’t missed one conditioning session or anything during the summer,” Scott said. “She’s been the one person who has been out here every single day and never complains about the rain or the heat. You can tell she loves the game and missed playing. I’m just happy we can have someone that good and that dedicated.”
Bubley, who had two goals and three assists last season before the knee injury, said even those simple conditioning sessions were missed while she was sidelined.
“Once I didn’t have it I realized how much I missed it,” Bubley said. “I wanted to be running and doing those things to get better. Once the things over the summer started I just said I’m going to be there every day because I couldn’t for so long. Plus I had to get back in shape because I definitely wasn’t in good condition.”
Opila, who had 16 goals and 17 assists as a freshman, felt a similar loss when the game was taken from her.
“Soccer is my life,” Opila said. “When I tore my ACL it made me understand how important it is to me. I took it for granted. … I missed everything about it. The teammates, the getting better, college opportunities. I even missed conditioning and fitness. Before I hated fitness. That was the worse thing in the world, but once you tear you ACL and you’re not fit anymore it’s more challenging.”
Steinbrenner junior forward Alexis Bredeau could not be happier Opila is back on the field.
“Before she hurt her knee she was on my club team, so having a girl on your high school and club team you never stop seeing each other,” Bredeau said. “We were really connected throughout the time she did hurt her knee and to see her just try so hard to come back I know she’s going to be better than ever.”
First-year Warriors coach Robert Woodard is also excited to have a player like Opila.
“She likes to go forward and has a lot of skill,” Woodard said. “Watching her in tryouts I knew she was a very talented player. It’s nice to have a confident midfielder who can add to the attack.”
Bubley and Gaither will host Opila and Steinbrenner on Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m.
“The players here haven’t asked me yet for any information on how they do things there, but I’m sure it will come up,” Bubley said with a laugh. “I’m sure they will when the game gets closer.”
–All stats as recorded to Maxpreps.com by coaches.
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