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By Michele Kettner
Washington D.C. (August 26, 2018) – After missing close to a full year with a torn ACL, Washington Spirit forward Arielle Ship made her first appearance of the 2018 NWSL season against Portland Thorns FC on Saturday night during the club’s record-setting attendance night in their debut at Audi Field.
While Ship has been working way back into form the past several weeks in training, and suited up the last four games for the Spirit, she finally got playing time when she substituted in for forward Mallory Pugh in the 81st minute on Saturday.
“This game was incredible for me, amazing. I know we didn’t get the result we wanted, but I don’t think I could’ve asked for a better game to come back in,” Ship said after the game. “I mean, the atmosphere was just so incredible, all of those fans, the stadium was amazing. It was just a really great feeling.”
Ship, a former University of California – Berkeley standout, sustained a torn ACL while playing for the Spirit on August 26, 2017 in a game against the Chicago Red Stars at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Before her injury, Ship made 14 appearances during a promising rookie season in 2017, tallying one goal and two assists.
“I definitely think I still have some work to do, for sure,” Ship said. “I wish there were more games with the season coming to an end, it was just not enough time with getting injured and coming back. But I’m definitely excited for next season and I’m hoping to be really sharp and fresh and on my game then.”
Ship said that missing a year’s worth of playing time while recovering was hard on her, both mentally and physically, but she still focused on how to strengthen her game for when she made her return.
“I think any athlete can attest that injuries are very hard. Questioning, who you are? Why am I doing this?” the forward explained. “The day-to-day is just so challenging and painful, but I think tonight is a good representation of how gratifying it can feel. Tonight was my why. It’s why I worked my butt off to get back out here.”
Ship and the Spirit return to the Maryland SoccerPlex Saturday, September 1 to close out the season against Sky Blue FC at 7 p.m. ET.
It’s been exactly 1 year since I tore my ACL and making my debut back last night at Audi field in front of 7900 fans was a dream come true! Massive thanks to everyone who has helped me to get back on the field- my family, friends, teammates & everyone at @WashSpirit. Much love!! pic.twitter.com/XRim5JyuZb
— Arielle Ship (@arielle_ship) August 26, 2018
— Washington Spirit (@WashSpirit) August 26, 2018