Last year, forward Therese Heaton was hampered by a series of
injuries that limited her to just eight starts. Heaton’s
absence was a factor in the Michigan soccer team’s inability
to score goals last season. Back and healthy in this, her junior
year, Heaton has started all eight games this season and has
already scored as many goals — seven — as the entire
team did in that span last year.

Heaton dealt with injuries even before she came to Michigan. As
a senior at Wheaton Warrenville South High School in Illinois, she
tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee. Heaton had to go
through a rigorous rehabilitation just to get on the field for her
freshman season. But when she did, things began to click right
away.

Heaton scored just 36 seconds into her second collegiate game
against No. 13 Florida — her first of two goals in the game.
She continued on a steady scoring pace, compiling 10 goals and four
assists on the season. Her 24-point performance was good for third
best by a freshman in school history.

In the second round of the 2002 NCAA tournament, Heaton scored
her second game-winning goal of the postseason during a 2-0 victory
over Pepperdine. But, later in the game Heaton dislocated her
shoulder and tore her labrum — the ring of cartilage that
attaches to and extends into the ball joint of the shoulder.

Heaton was able to continue training and conditioning following
the season while she rehabbed her shoulder, but she developed
compartment syndrome in her calves during the spring.

Compartment syndrome — when the sheath around the calf
muscle is unable to expand as the muscle does — often arises
from excessive training. Heaton, who was in considerable pain and
barely able to walk, underwent surgery in the spring to correct the
problem.

Early in the summer of 2003, Heaton had recovered from surgery
and returned home to compete with her club team. Disaster struck
once more. During practice, Heaton separated her shoulder again,
and this time the injury would require surgery — her second
in three months.

As fall rolled around, Heaton was back with the team, but she
was out of shape after two surgeries and hadn’t played since
November of the previous year.

“It was a struggle, my sophomore year,” Heaton said.
“I wasn’t playing as well as I knew that I was capable
of playing. It was a combination of coming off my injuries but also
my confidence just wasn’t the same. As the season progressed
and I got more and more frustrated with my play — it just
snowballed into one big disaster.”

Heaton played in 25 games in her sophomore year but started in
just eight, scoring just two goals and notching three assists.

“It truly makes a difference when you can play and train
all year ’round,” Heaton said. “I was constantly
having to fight back from square one. I’d get back from an
injury and I’d have my next one and I’d be back at the
beginning again. After my shoulder surgery, I came back and had a
frustrating sophomore year.”

Heaton has come into this year healthy and is leading the team
with seven goals and two assists for 16 points.

“I was able to train hard all through the winter, all
through the spring, all through the summer,” Heaton said.
“Now I’m back and I feel great and I think it has made
a difference.”

Heaton is part of a change that No. 16 Michigan (5-2-1, 2-0 Big
Ten) has made up front in order to score more goals, which was an
Achilles’ heel for the Wolverines last year. Michigan coach
Debbie Rademacher has employed a 4-3-3 formation, which uses three
forwards on the attack to increase Michigan’s scoring
power.

The addition of freshman Melissa Dobbyn and the return of Heaton
to join senior Kate Morgan on the attack have been important. With
the new formation, Rademacher can get all three players on the
field at the same time.

“It’s definitely been great this year,” Heaton
said. “The chemistry up front has been awesome with Dobbyn
here and us playing the three-front. Morgan and I got to play all
summer together. I think the chemistry and the familiarity we have
with each other has been really good and Dobbyn has come and fit
right into the mix.”

With the success that Heaton and the Wolverines have enjoyed so
far this season, Heaton is thankful that she has been able to stay
healthy on and off the field.

“For me, personally, it’s very important
mentally,” Heaton said. “I just put the past behind me
and decided this was going to be a fresh start. I’ve worked
really hard and I’ve tried to have more confidence in my
play. I’m trying to forget the past successes or failures
I’ve had, and just go out there and give it my all every
time.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.