Elise Linn is proof of what can be attained with determination and perseverance.
The Hampden Academy senior soccer player missed her entire sophomore and junior seasons after having two knee surgeries, one on each knee.
But the midfielder-forward did everything she could to return for her senior year. On Wednesday, Linn scored the game-winning goal with a second-half header off an Eliza Parker corner kick to give the Broncos a 2-1 victory over Bangor.
It was Hampden Academy’s first win over Bangor in nine years.
“It was surreal,” Linn said. “I’m glad to be able to contribute to the win.”
Lynn knew about HA’s frustrations in the rivalry because her sister Aubra, who now attends Castleton University, played for the Broncos.
Elise Linn was looking forward to playing with her sister, who was then a senior in 2016. In July she tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee.
Nine months later, she tore the ACL in her right knee.
“It was really frustrating,” Elise Linn said. “I was really excited to come back and play with these girls.”
She still attended practices and most of the games, and helped out coach Paul Wellman. Elise Linn kept the scorebook, put the balls away after practice, organized youth groups that played during halftime of HA games and offered moral support to her teammates.
“She has had such a great attitude,” Wellman said. “I’m so happy to see it pay off for a kid like her. She is so humble.”
Through endless hours of rehabilitation and her intense desire to play her senior year, she made it happen.
“I never waivered on wanting to come back and play,” Elise Linn said. “I saw where a college player had come back to play after three knee surgeries. But I had my doubts.”
Elise Linn worried about getting injured again and whether she would be as effective on the field. Despite occasional rehab, she experiences soreness after games.
She admits she doesn’t have the skill or speed she once had, but she is constantly trying to get better. Elise Linn works on her speed at Relentless Strength Training in Bangor.
Elise Linn is pleased with her play thus far but knows she can continue to improve.
“She has been fantastic for us,” Wellman said. “She brings a lot of poise and calm to the team. She knows how to settle things down. She makes the players around her better.
Elise Linn said the victory over Bangor will provide her with a lasting memory, even though she didn’t see the ball make its way into the net.
“I just heard everyone screaming,” she said.
Wellman was elated with the Bangor win, especially considering that it followed a 10-0 loss to defending two-time state Class A champ Camden Hills of Rockport.
“It is a testament to the girls. They believe in each other and have worked extremely hard,” Wellman said. “The win means so much because Bangor has accomplished so much. They are such a good program.”
He noted that the Broncos received terrific performances from goalie Adie Hughes, center back Zara Misler and midfielder Helen Shearer, who scored the first goal.
“Adie made a lot of saves and did a great job communicating with our defenders. She stopped a couple of breakaways,” Wellman said. “Zara saves us countless times, and Helen covered so much ground in the midfield. She must have covered 7 miles.”
The 2-1-1 Broncos were scheduled to host Mt. Blue of Farmington Friday night.