By George Limbert
After three consecutive hat-tricks and an NAIA player of the week award in her first season, Inma Martinez saw her season end with an awful ACL injury that required surgery and 11 months on the sidelines. The sophomore forward from Madrid, Spain, bounced back this August for the start of the regular season with the Missouri Valley women’s soccer team. So far this season Martinez has exploded back into form, leading the team in goals.
“It was very difficult. At first it had a very strong psychological impact on me.” Martinez said. “I’ve always been very afraid of knee injuries, when it happened, for the first week I couldn’t find the strength to face recovery.”
Inma’s father flew to the United States from Spain to help her through her surgery.
“When my father came, he really encouraged me to work hard every day for the next 9 months,” Martinez said.
The Viking women’s soccer team had their 2015 season home opener on Aug. 25 and Martinez was there leading the line for the Vikings, starting at forward. It took just over 12 minutes for Martinez to finish off a good team move by turning and carrying the ball goalwards, before releasing a long range strike accurately finding the top right corner, leaving the keeper with no chance. Martinez turned provider in the second half, providing an assist for junior forward Riley Kerr. The game finished 3-1. The following game on the Aug. 28 saw the Vikings get a road win against William Woods, where Martinez added another goal and an assist.
“I have started very well, but I know I’m still not playing at my full capacity. It’s hard to start playing again after so long being out,” Martinez said. “I feel my head is moving a lot faster than my body, which is frustrating, but slowly I am feeling better with each game.”
Head women’s soccer coach Drew Hawkins praised Inma for the work she put in to get back into fighting shape.
“Inma suffered an awful injury at a very significant time,” he said. “She worked very hard in the training room and in the gym, and now she gets rewarded by getting back on the field and doing what she loves.”
The Vikings women’s soccer team have now moved to 2-0-1 for the 2015/16 season, and currently ranked no. 23 in the NAIA top 25 coaches poll, coach Hawkins team will be looking to keep pushing forward after a positive start to the season.