Ribeiro’s back on her feet again

Ribeiro’s back on her feet again

Cumberland’s Stephanie Ribeiro, shown getting ready to celebrate a goal she scored last season for the University of Connecticut women’s soccer team, has been very happy with the progress she has made in her comeback from an ACL injury she suffered in February. Ribeiro was selected in the second round of the NWSL Draft by FC Kansas City, and she’s looking forward to her first training camp with her new team next March.
Ex-CHS soccer star, NWSL draft pick excels in comeback from ACL injury

CUMBERLAND – Stephanie Ribeiro’s rookie season was over before it began.

A few weeks after she was drafted in the second round of the NWSL (National Women's Soccer League) Draft by FC Kansas City, the former Cumberland High All-State striker was playing in a low-key, indoor intra-squad scrimmage with her University of Connecticut teammates when the unthinkable happened.

Ribeiro’s right foot got caught in the turf and she tore her ACL

With her first workouts with her new team a month away, Ribeiro was obviously devastated. She had surgery on her knee on Feb. 16, and even though she was out, she was not down.

“That was the best case scenario,” she said on Saturday afternoon during a break in her schedule. “It’s an easier and smoother recovery. I was walking three days post-surgery and I had a full range of motion and everything else, so the surgery went great, as well as my recovery.”

For the first time since she was knee high, Ribeiro went an entire calendar year without playing in an organized game. While that would drive your average soccer player batty, Ribeiro chose to stay positive and optimistic, working as hard as she could rehabbing her knee and counting down the days until she can attend her first FC Kansas City workouts in March.

“I've been doing my rehab with the athletic trainer at UConn, Catie Dann, who is great,” Ribeiro reported. “A lot of strength and balance work. I’m just re-teaching my leg how to work again.”

Speaking of UConn, that’s where Ribeiro has spent most of this year, not only getting in quality work with Dann, but also serving as a volunteer assistant coach with the women’s team, which a season ago, she helped lead to its second American Athletic Conference and regular-season titles in three years, as well as its third straight NCAA tournament berth.

“Since I planned on staying at school to finish my rehab, I asked the coaches how I could help out with the team and they suggested volunteer coaching, which I jumped on right away,” said Ribeiro, who scored over 100 points (37 goals and 29 assists) during her brilliant career with the Huskies and was a First-Team All-American last year and a Third-Team pick as a junior.

And that wasn’t the only coaching Ribeiro was doing.

“Margaret Rodriguez, who is the (UConn) assistant coach, recommended me for the NEU (Northeast United Premier) 05' girls’ team,” out of Mansfield, Conn., Ribeiro said. “I sent my resume in and I was hired for the year as an assistant coach for the 04' girls’ team. It's interesting being on the other side of things, but it's been a great experience so far.”

While she’s busy with the 04’ team, practicing with the girls twice a week and coaching a game on the weekends, she’s also been busy at UConn practices three times a week and attending one or two of their games a week, depending if they're home or away. She also works 20-25 hours a week at the bookstore on campus, and of course, there’s her rehab.

“Once I got back to school (during UConn’s preseason) this summer, I really picked up the rehab with some jumping and cutting,” she reported. “I started conditioning and lifting as well with my strength and conditioning coach Moe Butler, who's also been fantastic.

“It feels good to have a full schedule too,” she added. “When I tore my ACL, the only thing I had planned in my day was rehab, so it's nice to have a bit more structure. And I love being around the sport again. My 04' girls are wonderful, and of course, being around the UConn environment is awesome. They really take care of me over here, and I'm very thankful for the opportunities they has given me.”

As for Kansas City, Ribeiro has yet to step foot in the Midwest city, but when the team flew east to take on the Boston Breakers on Aug. 4 at Harvard University’s Jordan Field in Allston, Mass., Ribeiro finally got to meet new teammates and coaches and the team’s staff.

“It was great meeting them,” she said. “Everyone was very nice and welcoming, and it made me even more excited to head out there in March.”

Cumberland’s Stephanie Ribeiro, left, shown in action last season with the University of Connecticut women’s soccer team, graduated with 37 goals, 29 assists, and multiple All-American honors. The former Cumberland High All-State striker and 2012 CHS graduate was drafted in the second round (with the 17th overall pick) by FC Kansas City in this year’s NWSL Draft.