After injury, Bellingham tunes up for SU women’s soccer season with summer in Charlotte

first_img Comments After missing out on her would-be senior season in 2009 with a season-ending injury, Megan Bellingham found her Syracuse soccer career’s salvation in Charlotte, N.C., this summer. Salvation didn’t come easy. ‘To be honest, when I got there, I was kicked around for a while,’ Bellingham said. ‘It wasn’t an environment to make an initial impact.’ Healthy again this summer, Bellingham — a redshirt senior forward on the Syracuse women’s soccer team — returned to soccer with the Charlotte Eagles of a United States-Canadian Pro-Am league. The Eagles, a women’s elite soccer team based in North Carolina, was the medium for Bellingham’s tough return to the soccer field. And now, she is back with her full-time team — that other team, the Orange — at 100 percent. She says she is ready to build on her successful SU career, consisting of the highest point total for any Syracuse soccer player since 2003 (she had 17 points in 2008), in her last go-around.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text ‘Well, she’s back to 100 percent right now. Her surgery was very successful,’ SU head coach Phil Wheddon said. ‘In her situation, we made sure that she took it easy. Our philosophy here is to make sure the players are 100 percent fit before they step back on the field. I don’t want a player that’s 80 percent fit. I want a player that’s 100 percent fit.’ Two games into last season, disaster struck for the forward. Bellingham suffered the season-ending knee injury, and the newly appointed team captain was restricted to medical redshirt duties during 2009. Wheddon said Bellingham means a lot to this season’s SU team. Few players in the history of the program have seen the ups and downs that she has in her first three years. But one of Bellingham’s teammates has seen for herself the entirety of Bellingham’s trials and tribulations. Marjory Elwell, the only SU teammate with the Orange who was there for Bellingham’s freshman season, is happy to see Bellingham back on the practice field and also recognizes the value of a unified roster. ‘(Bellingham) contributed a lot last year even though she didn’t play, just because she’s such a great leader,’ Elwell said. ‘She keeps the team focused and keeps the team together.’ Just getting back into game speed while in Charlotte — while playing on a team with an already strong veteran presence — Bellingham found herself in the newfound position of role player. Boasting considerably fewer responsibilities, she was forced to push those ahead of her on the depth chart in order to keep competitive. ‘Since coming back (to Syracuse), I’ve been trying to keep that same mindset, because that’s what makes a good team great,’ Bellingham said. At the end of practice on Tuesday, the scene wasn’t much out of the norm: positioning drills during set pieces. Discussion about upcoming opponents Washington and Portland’s strengths and weaknesses at midfield. Team suicide drills to close out the last 10 minutes. And some interjection from the head coach. ‘Who wants to be in the top five?’ Wheddon shouted to his team regarding the top-five finishers in the suicide drills. Set pieces. Discussion. Sprinting. Shouting. They are commonplace at any soccer practice, whether it is Syracuse or Charlotte. Just another day on the pitch. But one day on the pitch is one more day than Bellingham had for almost the entirety of last season. She can thank Charlotte. Said Bellingham: ‘They had a bunch of really great players. … I feel like I learned a ton.’ [email protected] Published on August 31, 2010 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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