Aug. 18, 2015
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Rose Ripslinger is two years removed from a high school soccer career punctuated by goal after marvelous goal. There were a total of 118 during her unprecedented four-year run at Davenport (Iowa) Assumption High School.
Ripslinger’s college career isn’t off to a roaring statistical start, unless you count frustrating medical setbacks. She was derailed last preseason with an ACL injury. That was followed by thyroid surgery in July. But it will take more than a couple scars to keep Ripslinger off the pitches around the Big Ten Conference.
Her arrival is close. Just how close is up to Ripslinger.
“There isn’t a doctor who is telling me what I can and can’t do,” Ripslinger said Tuesday at media day at the Iowa Soccer Complex. “It’s a matter of me being comfortable and me being fit enough to be on the field for some of the game. I want to be strong enough that we aren’t worried about re-injuring my knee or my other knee. I’m hoping I’ll be closer to 100 percent before our Big Ten Conference (schedule) starts (on Sept. 18).”
Iowa fans are in for a treat.
The state has never produced a more heralded home grown talent. Ripslinger became the first person to be named state Gatorade Player of the Year four consecutive times in soccer. She led Assumption to four consecutive Class 1A state championships, winning 51 straight games from 2011-13 — the eighth-longest winning streak in United States high school girls soccer history. Ripslinger finished high school with 118 goals and 54 assists, leading the Knights to an 81-6 record.
“It was hard, but if you’re negative about it, you’re going to break yourself down. You can’t let yourself get too down about it, otherwise you’ll wilt into nothing. I have been pretty positive about it all and gained a new appreciation for the game since I haven’t played in so long. I have missed being able to be so active.”
UI redshirt freshman
“Rose is a special player, she gives you a lot of pace and can maybe mask a little bit the (graduation) loss of (leading scorer) Cloe Lacasse,” UI head coach Dave DiIanni said. “Once she’s fit, she’ll be ready to go. We hope in a couple of weeks, she’ll give us a shot in the arm excitement-wise.”
Lacasse scored 12 of Iowa’s 33 goals last season, leading the Hawkeyes to a record of 14-7-1 and into the Big Ten Conference Tournament championship. Even though Ripslinger didn’t see game action, she watched and learned.
“It was hard, but if you’re negative about it, you’re going to break yourself down. You can’t let yourself get too down about it, otherwise you’ll wilt into nothing,” Ripslinger said. “I have been pretty positive about it all and gained a new appreciation for the game since I haven’t played in so long. I have missed being able to be so active.”
Being stagnant is a new dilemma for Ripslinger. In high school, fall was for club soccer and off-season track workouts. She was a dual-sport athlete in spring and into summer, then the cycle of seemingly endless activity began anew.
“My whole life I have been sport-to-sport and never really had a break,” Ripslinger said. “This was the first time I have had off in my life. It was like, ‘What’s Rose like without soccer?’ What else is there to me?
“There was a lot of maturing and learning more about myself and the person I am when I’m not an athlete. I learned a lot about myself and how I want to go at soccer the rest of my life.”
Ripslinger, a redshirt freshman forward, majors in health and human physiology and biology; she wants to attend physical therapy school. Hopefully her days for personal physical therapy are drawing to a close. She said her return to a soccer field will be “very emotional.”
“It has been a lot of hard work, a lot of ups and downs and it has been so long,” she said. “Excited is an understatement. I have waited so long and learned a lot from watching and listening to the coaches. I’m excited to be with the team, trying to make an impact.”
Iowa opens the regular season Friday at home against Pacific. The match begins at 7 p.m. (CT).