Sept. 15, 1997
Women's Soccer Star Recovers From Knee Injury
By Roger Horne Assistant Sports Information Director
Isabelle Harvey walked out of the USC training room two weeks ago with a smile on her face. Tests on her left knee -- on which she had a torn ACL repaired in April -- showed that her knee is getting stronger. That's good news for the sophomore forward from Quebec, Canada, who was the Pacific-10 Conference's top scorer in 1996 and earned All-Pac-10 first team and All-American honorable mention honors. It's also good news for the USC women's soccer team, which is off to an 5-1 start in 1997 while missing its top player. "It's been so hard not practicing with the team," Harvey said. "I've been dying to practice, but on the other hand, I'm not supposed to be back yet, so this is good."
Amazingly, Harvey had her outstanding 1996 campaign -- setting new school single-season records for goals (20), assists (11), points (51), game-winning goals (nine) and multiple-goal games (six) and leading USC to a 15-5 record -- while playing on a bad knee all last year. She initially hurt the knee prior to her arrival at USC, rested it throughout the summer, played the 1996 season without pain, then aggravated the injury this spring, forcing the surgery.
Nearly as amazing, though, has been her recovery. Typically, this type of knee surgery takes more than six months to recover from, but Harvey will try and make it back in less than that time. "Isabelle will give this team an emotional lift when she comes back," USC Coach Jim Millinder said. "I don't know when she'll be back to the Isabelle of last year, but knowing her, she'll be back quicker than we think. She's a catalyst of our attack and makes everyone around her better." While Harvey hasn't been participating in full workouts with the rest of the team, she has been doing as much as the trainers will allow, including winning the team's two-mile run in preseason camp. She's counting the days, though, until she gets to play in a real match. "It's almost certain that I'll be back for the Pac-10 season," Harvey said. "There are a lot of drills that I haven't been able to do because the doctor hadn't cleared me yet. But I'm getting more confidence in my knee and what I can do."
After watching her teammates work out without her, she's also excited about what the team might accomplish in 1997. "We have really, really good players," said Harvey, who plans to major in exercise science. "If everyone does their job, we're going to do well. If we all do what we need to do, we can go far." Further than last year, everyone hopes. Despite winning three-quarters of their games last season, including a first-ever win over rival UCLA, the Women of Troy were denied an NCAA Tournament berth. That's the main rallying point for the 1997 season. "We don't want to have to sit in front of the television again and stress over whether or not we're going to make it," Harvey said. "We want to win the Pac-10 because that's the easiest way to make the tournament. Everyone wants the same thing this year."
Harvey's return should provide a huge lift to the team. On August 31, the Women of Troy battled No. 6 Nebraska to a near-standstill, but lost, 2-1, in Lincoln. With Harvey's speed and scoring ability in the lineup, who knows what might have happened? "Isabelle might have been the difference in the game," Millinder said. "She could have allowed us to win that game. She brings another dimension to the field, because she can play at a high level at a high speed. She's a very, very important player on this team." Also, if it wasn't for the knee injury, Harvey might be one step closer to another goal -- making the Canadian National team. She's currently in the national team pool, but missed last spring's training camp. "I went home to Quebec for two weeks and talked to some friends on the national team, and they thought I was going to be there," said Harvey, who has also played a year of first division soccer in Monaco. "But my knee was bad. I want to be out there, and I think about it a lot. Hopefully next spring I'll be there with them." And her teammates and coaches are hoping that she'll soon rejoin them, as the Women of Troy compete for a Pac-10 championship.