Can­niff works her way back

Cal­i­for­nia res­i­dent re­turns for U-17 FIFA Women’s World Cup af­ter ACL in­jury

The Enterprise - - Sports - By ERIN FISH Spe­cial to The En­ter­prise

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay — It’s every soc­cer player’s big­gest fear: Plant­ing wrong, hear­ing a “pop” and the ag­o­niz­ing pain that fol­lows.

Jor­dan Can­niff, a Cal­i­for­nia, Md., res­i­dent, knew as soon as she took that step, that she would likely not be join­ing her team in the Ja­pan Se­ries or any­time soon af­ter.

A torn an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment and menis­cus, the MRI con­firmed.

While some take pity on them­selves, Can­niff re­acted in an en­tirely dif­fer­ent way.

She had one goal in mind, to make it back for the U-17 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Uruguay. A nor­mal ACL re­cov­ery for young women is an av­er­age 6 to 12 months re­cov­ery time, so Can­niff felt con­fi­dent that she could make it back in time, but she wanted to be ready to com­pete. A goal was set, and the 17-year-old went to work.

“Just know­ing that I could come back for [the World Cup] and know­ing I could come back for my team­mates,” Can­niff said. “These are my best friends and just know­ing that I can play with them again is what I needed.”

Can­niff was not the first of ACL in­juries for the United States’ U-17 team. Mid­fielder Ains­ley Ah­ma­dian and for- ward Lia God­frey also suf­fered the same in­jury be­fore Can­niff.

She also was not the last. Fol­low­ing Can­niff’s in­jury, three more play­ers were suc­cumbed to ACL tears.

Mid­fielder Croixe Bethune was the first to go down in the semi­fi­nal match against Haiti in the Con­ca­caf Women’s U-17 Cham­pi­onship. Af­ter that, key de­fend­ers and the most ex­pe­ri­enced U-17 play­ers, Kate Wies­ner and Kennedy Wes­ley both tore their ACL’s within two weeks of each other.

“I re­ally felt bad for them be­cause I knew ex­actly what they had to go through and ex­actly how it felt,” said Can­niff, a Great Mills High School stu­dent who re­cently com­mit­ted

to Penn State and was named to the United Soc­cer Coaches Youth Girls All-East Re­gion and All-Amer­ica teams. “Es­pe­cially those three play­ers were big play­ers for our team, so it’s a big im­pact and just know­ing that they didn’t have the chance to come back for the World Cup.”

With three play­ers down, Can­niff’s orig­i­nal goal of mak­ing it back for the World Cup be­came much more sig­nif­i­cant. If she were to make it back to the World Cup, she would be the only U-17 World Cup vet­eran from the last U-17 World Cup two years ago in Jor­dan. Not only did she want to make it back for her team-

mates, now she felt the need.

“I thought it was im­por­tant,” Can­niff said. “Ob­vi­ously I wanted to come, but I was talk­ing to the coaches and try­ing to see where I was at and I kind of felt like it was im­por­tant be­cause I knew that I wanted to come back and give my ex­pe­ri­ence to the team be­cause I felt like that was vi­tal for them as well.”

Three new play­ers from the 16s were brought up to train­ing camp in July and have been at every U-17 event since. Trin­ity Byars, 15, and Sa­mar Guidry and Trin­ity Rod­man, both 16, were three of the youngest play­ers on the USA U-17 Women’s World Cup ros­ter. With the help of a vet­eran like Can­niff and other wel­com­ing lead­ers on the team, the three new­com­ers have ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions at the U-17 level.

Can­niff be­lieves in these young play­ers and knows that without the help of her fel­low vet­eran play­ers, these three will be key to fill­ing the void.

“I know how it feels to be the youngest on the team and to come into a new team and I think they’ve made an im­pact,” Can­niff said. “I think they’re re­ally go­ing to be im­por­tant for this tour­na­ment.

Six months post-ACL surgery, Can­niff was cleared for full con­tact. It has now been eight months and though she is still do­ing re­hab, the U-17 vet­eran achieved her goal of mak­ing it back for the U-17 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Uruguay and she has cer­tainly set a mo­ti­vat­ing tone for oth­ers around her.

The U.S. U-17 Women’s Na­tional Team was knocked out of the tour­na­ment in group

play on Nov. 21 fol­low­ing its 4-0 loss to Ger­many, de­spite putting on their best per­for­mance of the three games in Group C.

Can­niff put on an ex­cep­tional per­for­mance in the match against Ger­many, putting up two shots within 10 min­utes of each other in the first half. One hit off the left post and the other was saved by Ger­many goal­keeper Wiebke Wille­brant, who was later named Player of the Match.

The team opened group play with a 3-0 win over a scrappy Cameroon team and took a dip in the sec­ond game, suf­fer­ing a 3-0 loss to North Korea. Can­niff started and played a ma­jor­ity of the first match against Cameroon but came off the bench as a spark­plug in the sec­ond half of the North Korea game.

“That girl is in­cred­i­ble.

They’re all in­cred­i­ble, but her… Her re­silience, her work ethic, her men­tal­ity, her drive, her fo­cus,” U.S. U-17 Women’s Na­tional Team head coach Mark Carr said of Can­niff. “Un­der [eight] months ago, she tore her ACL and I didn’t be­lieve that she would be at this point and that kid will do ev­ery­thing and I think to­day you saw.

“I can’t even be­lieve that she’s here and she’s per­form­ing the way she did and all the credit goes to her for that. So great per­for­mance from her and I’m just re­ally proud of her.”


Cal­i­for­nia, Md. res­i­dent Jor­dan Can­niff worked her way back from an ACL in­jury to play the United States U-17 Women’s Na­tional Team in the U-17 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Uruguay.

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