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Pitt soccer's Carly Seneca continues on road to recovery

| Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Photo courtesy of Thomas Altany and University of Pittsburgh athletics
Gateway graduate Carly Seneca missed her freshman season at Pitt in 2013 because of an ACL injury, but she’s working to get back on the field for the start of the 2014 campaign. She took a medical redshirt and has four years of eligibility remaining.

Less than one half into her freshman season with the University of Pittsburgh women's soccer team, Gateway graduate Carly Seneca saw her season come to an end.

Late in the first half of the season-opener against Duquesne, Seneca suffered a torn ACL knee injury on a non-contact play.

She had surgery to repair the damage, and months of rehab followed.

Seneca was able to stay close to the team at games and practices while maintaining a challenging class schedule.

“I was practicing with the team all summer and really looking forward to playing with all of them,” Seneca said of her approach to her first season with the Panthers.

“(The injury) gave me a lot of time to reflect on everything that happened and made me determined to get back on the field. I was able to learn more about the game from a different perspective. It wasn't the situation that I wanted, but I was able to do whatever I could while I recovered. It was definitely a challenge, but it made me stronger.”

Almost 10 months later, Seneca is working towards getting back to full strength with a new-found perspective on the game she loves and the injury risks that come with it.

Her recovery was slowed in recent weeks with the discovery of a torn meniscus in the same knee as the ACL injury.

Throughout the ACL rehab process, Seneca was making strides, but pain developed in the knee area.

Issues with the hamstring near the knee were thought to be the problem, but an MRI showed no damage.

Results from another MRI, this one focusing more closely on her meniscus, revealed the source of the pain and the tear.

Seneca was slated for surgery on Monday.

“Actually, it was a relief to know there was a problem that could be fixed, and it will be fixed rather than having pain and not knowing what is causing it,” she said.

Seneca said it's not really known when or how the torn meniscus happened along the track of her recovery from the ACL injury and surgery.

But she does know that the recovery process from the latest surgery will not be as extensive.

She said a return to the field is set for approximately late August or early September. It is too early to tell, she said, if she will miss any games in the early season.

“I've been working hard all summer to get back, and it was tough to go through another injury,” said Seneca, who also is earning class credits on campus this summer in addition to her soccer-season preparation.

“I hadn't been released to full-contact, but I was sprinting and jumping. It's nice to know the recovery won't take too long. I should be on my feet (shortly after the surgery).

“We have a lot of good players coming back and 12 freshman who are very talented. We're really looking forward to the season.”

The Panthers return six starters and 13 letterwinners. Another true freshman, Marci Carter, a defenseman from Ooltewah, Tenn., also missed the entire 2013 season because of an ACL injury.

“We went through rehab together and became really close,” Seneca said. “She was someone I could lean on who really knew what I was going through.”

To start the 2014 season, Pitt will face Akron and Duquesne in the Steel City Classic on Aug. 22 and 24 and will take on Robert Morris at home on Aug. 27.

The Panthers struggled in 2013, as they went 4-14-1 overall and were 0-13 during their first foray into a tough ACC conference schedule.

“Carly's importance to the team showed in her absence from the second game on,” Pitt women's soccer head coach Greg Miller said.

“She's not only a great athlete with the ability to attack and generate offense, but she showed her value to the team in terms of her work rate. She was definitely someone the other teams would've had to worry about.

“The injury allowed her to have a different perspective. It really changed her in a lot of ways. She has grown to be a stronger person because of that.”

Miller knows that Seneca just wants to be done with all the injury recovery and get back on the field with her teammates.

“She won't be ready when practice starts on Aug. 5, but she should be ready near the start of the season and have an impact on things. There will have to be some adaptions she'll need to make to her game, but we look forward to her return.�”

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825, at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.

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