A torn ACL isn’t enough to keep the soccer star off the field for her final collegiate game.
Falisha Ramirez, a movement and sports science major and University of La Verne senior from Ontario, began her soccer career at age 4.
The Association of Youth Soccer (AYSO) was where Ramirez began her journey, an experience that shaped her choices.
“Its actually funny how I got involved. My mom was a cheerleader and hated soccer, whereas my dad was a football player,” Ramirez said. “We went on a family vacation out in Lodi, my cousin who was 15 at the time lived out there and I watched her play for the very first time, it was right then that I knew i wanted to play.”
While playing in the AYSO program, Ramirez was chosen by coaches to play on a select team.
The players were chosen for their ability and desire to play on a more competitive level in soccer.
An elite group of athletes were then asked to join an All-Star team to represent the city. Ramirez was asked to play on a couple of the club teams, but had always refused the offers.
Ramirez continued to attended Chaffey High School, and was a three-time letter winner in soccer as well as in track and basketball.
Ramirez played soccer both freshman and sophomore year, but decided to play basketball her senior year.
It was during that year that she was recruited by Mount San Antonio College in Walnut to play basketball.
Despite the offer for basketball, Ramirez decided to return to soccer after meeting the Mt. SAC soccer coach.
She had told the basketball coach she would return to the team, but in the end decided not to.
At Mt. SAC, Ramirez received All-Conference MVP honors for soccer. But, after two-years, was ready to transfer schools.
Initially she was torn between staying in California and moving to the East Coast, Ramirez made the decision to stay local.
It was then that Ramirez decided to play for the University of La Verne, and in doing so, helped the team step up their game.
“I came in a year before Falisha, and between my freshman and sophomore years having her made a phenomenal difference,” junior midfielder Ashley Vanga said.
“She completely ran our offense, which was something we were really lacking my first year, we needed a goal scorer and Falisha really stepped up to the challenge.”
A crisis occurred, however, on Oct. 28, during a game against Cal Lutheran.
Fifteen minutes after scoring her 19th goal, Ramirez suffered a devastating knee injury that would cause more trouble than expected.
“I thought I was done. The way my knee felt when I landed, I couldn’t believe after everything I’d go out like that,” Ramirez said. “I was so close to beating my record in goals, but it wasn’t until the trainers told me they believed my ACL had torn when it hit me.”
Ramirez was forced to immediately leave the game and her season looked like it had come to an end.
“I wasn’t going to let anyone take my season from me unless I was going to take it away myself, so I told my team I’d be back for the last game,” Ramirez said.
Keeping her promise, Ramirez worked hard and came back to play her final home game against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
“I was quite nervous. I was happy and concerned because I didn’t know how she could go from being that hurt to playing,” said Wendy Zwissler, head women’s soccer coach.
She not only played in the finale, but she recorded an assist and scored a goal for the Leopards reaching 20 goals, topping SCIAC players.
It wasn’t until after all the excitement that Ramirez felt the pain she had been trying to push away.
“I couldn’t walk for a while, but I rested it for a couple of days, made sure to brace it up with my bionic leg, and of course I had a lot of support from my family, friends, trainers, coaches and the team,” Ramirez said.
She was told that hyperextension had happened, the effects of a partially torn ACL and meniscus were gone.
On Nov. 27, Ramirez relieved an MRI and prepared for the life-wrenching results on Dec. 3.
The results concluded that the way Ramirez had landed caused her bone to be bruised and some fluid escaped into her knees.
Ramirez will not need surgery, but resting from the game and therapy is a must.
Aside from the injury, for the second year in a row, Ramirez earned the All-Conference Honor with two other teammates, Vanga and senior defender Danielle Sumlin.
Ramirez has led the conference in scoring with 20 goals this season, and accounted for more than 70 percent of the Leopards’ total offense.
The senior also had four assists and started 15 of the 17 games.
Ramirez plans to continue playing and has been training on her own since the season’s end.
She looks forward to trying out for professional teams as well as semi-professional teams.
With her major in movement and sports science, she plans on teaching and coaching track at the junior college or university level after graduation.
“Don’t ever let anybody tell you, you’re not good enough,” Ramirez said, “If you want to limit yourself that’s one thing, but don’t ever let others do it for you.”
Xenia Martinez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.