COLUMBIA — In a game against MacMurray College, Stephens College soccer midfielder/forward Michaela Daniels felt her leg give out beneath her.
The sophomore went to kick the ball as a defender approached from the opposite side, and her knee buckled and turned on impact. Even after this happened, Daniels continued to play through what she calls "excruciating" pain for the next four minutes until she could not take it anymore.
Later, she found out that she strained her MCL, an injury that does not require surgery but will sideline her for an unknown amount of time.
"Initially, they thought I would be out two weeks, but now, it'll be longer," Daniels said. "I played every minute of every game freshman year, so this is a whole new view for me."
Daniels, one of the captains for Stephens, has had to find a new role on the team while she can't be on the field.
"I sit with the injured players," Daniels said. "But I'm trying to change the way we talk to the people on the field during games. A lot of times, we will yell about things that have already happened when there's nothing we can do to change that. Instead, we should be encouraging people."
Daniels started physical therapy Tuesday, and although she doesn't have an exact timetable for her return, she is working hard to get back as quickly as she can.
"It's going to be tough getting back into shape," Daniels said. "But though I'm still part of the team, I'm ready to really be a part of the team again."
Stephens scored its first goal in the program's two-year existence against MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Ill., on Sept. 10. The team is 0-7 on the year, but since that game, the players have scored three goals in three games and had the team's closest result yet, losing to Lincoln Christian University 5-2 on Sept. 21.
Though Daniels hates sitting out while the team is improving, she supports the strides her team has been making in her absence.
"I get so excited, and I'm happy every time someone scores," Daniels said. "But you can't help but wonder when the player who scored is playing your position if that could've been you."
The team has felt the loss of Daniels on the field, both through playing experience and leadership, but Daniels is enjoying seeing her teammates rise to the challenge.
"It's really cool to see other girls stepping up on the field," Daniels said.
Supervising editor is Erik Hall: sports@ColumbiaMissourian.com, 882-5729.