According to the NCAA website, women’s soccer is third in college sports for the most ACL tears, behind football and women’s gymnastics.
Maggie Berkowitz, Appalachian State Women’s soccer athletic trainer, weighs in on why women’s soccer players suffer from this injury so frequently:
“Females are already at an increased risk of ACL tears due to multiple factors including an increased Q-angle- which is the angle between the hips and knee. The contact nature of the sport, on top of the higher risks put women’s soccer players at an increased risk.”
Erin Settle, senior star forward on the soccer team, knows a thing or two about ACL tears. She’s torn both.
She remembers the first time she tore her right ACL. Settle got taken out from behind and immediately heard it pop. It took 5 months to recover.
The second time happened only months after her previous recovery during a preseason soccer practice.
“A teammate and I were battling for the ball when I landed down on my knee and it popped again. This time it was the left knee,” Settle said.
Surgery and recovery was worse this time around for the striker. They took a third of her patella tendon and pieces of the bone.
During this process, they completely restored Settle’s knee. Recovery from surgery was difficult to get through, but Settle credits God and her family for helping her get through the process.
Kass Alvarez, former women’s soccer player, also tore her ACL.
“I was running towards someone with the ball and when I turned, my foot got stuck in the turf and my knee popped,” Alvarez said.
Recovery for Alvarez was also not an easy one. Alvarez worried she wouldn’t be the same after surgery but her family pushed her to keep going.
She was bedridden at first, but quickly advanced to doing exercises in bed, such as writing the alphabet with her leg.
For Alvarez, the return to the soccer field took 6 months.
Settle and Alvarez are not the only two women’s soccer players at App to tear their ACL’s.
Current Appalachian State Women’s soccer players Jessica Easley, Jamie Palermo, and Abbey Rand have all torn theirs.
According to Berkowitz, it is important to make sure the leg is equally strong everywhere, otherwise it can lead to tears because of the “instability that occurs.”
“An important factor is the quad to hamstring ratio. Especially in soccer players, quad strength is so much stronger than the hamstrings, which increases the risk or tears. So working on hamstring strength is important.”