Soccer’s Nasenbenny back, better than ever


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Then a freshman, Katie Nasenbenny was in the starting lineup for the Iowa soccer team’s 2010 season-opener against DePaul.

The Hawkeyes fell to the Blue Demons, 2-0, in what was the only game Nasenbenny played during her first season.

The following day in practice, she got tangled up with two teammates and heard her knee pop.

“I just knew when it happened that it was something pretty bad,” Nasenbenny said. “I had never felt anything like that before.”

She had torn an ACL ligament, meaning Nasenbenny’s first season was over after one game.

The La Grange, Ill., native said she was determined to come back stronger after her injury.

Because of the ligament tear, she was granted a medical redshirt for the season. She often arrived at the Iowa Soccer Complex hours before the team’s afternoon practices to work on rehabilitating her knee.

“I came right after my classes ended,” the sophomore midfielder recalled. “If practice was at 2:30, I’d take the Hawkeye Interdorm [bus] and get there at 12:45.”

Rehab for Nasenbenny consisted of various leg exercises, stretching, sprinting, and after a while, some contact activities.

Some people in Nasenbenny’s situation might feel alone, but that wasn’t the case. The 19-year-old found companionship in sophomore teammate Alex Melin, who also had an ACL injury in her career.

“[Melin] was a good outlet to talk to if I had questions, and the training staff was great,” Nasenbenny said. “Every day people would ask, ‘How are you doing, Benny? Are you feeling better?’ ”

Melin noted that the soccer team is extremely close, and the players support of each other.

“[Nasenbenny] would ask me questions about things to do [during rehab] and how to get back,” Melin said. “She’s come back great [this season], and I think once you come back from an injury like that, you have more of a drive.”

Nasenbenny first started engaging in full practices with the team around three months ago, and she has had an immediate impact on the field for the Hawkeyes, who have started the 2011 season 5-0-0 for the first time in program history.

So far, Nasenbenny has scored four goals, including a two-goal performance against Southeast Missouri State on Aug. 21.

“Katie’s done well; she’s been very good in the box [this season],” head coach Ron Rainey said. “She’s really aggressive and hungry to score goals and puts her body in the right position. She’s a skillful player and has a nice creative flair in attacking third [of the field] that has resulted in some goal-scoring chances and some goals.”

Nasenbenny is now fully recovered from her injury and has put the ordeal behind her.

“I’m more conscious of landing correctly or of where I’m stepping,” she said. “It’s just like one time you feel like, ‘I can do this’ — and then you’re fine.

“I worked really hard through the rehab process, and it’s been really rewarding to not have too many ill effects from this injury and to [be able to] help the team.”

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