Maxine Murchie didn’t let an injury slow her down from pursuing her goal of a full soccer scholarship at a U.S. university.

Maxine Murchie didn’t let an injury slow her down from pursuing her goal of a full soccer scholarship at a U.S. university.

Maxine Murchie had everything going for her. Not only was the Pere Rene de Galinee graduate coming off an under-16 national soccer championship with Team Ontario, but she was also going into the most important season of her youth career – the year when U.S. scouts start to take serious notice. And the striker for the provincial team and the Burlington Heat was certainly going to be on the radar of many NCAA schools.

But just as everything was coming together, her ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) was torn apart. The injury wasn’t in the plans and ended up sidelining her for the remainder of the season.

However, instead of languishing over the injury, Murchie came back with a renewed attitude. Her love for the sport pushed her even harder.

"I was very scared that it was going to affect my chances of going to university in the States," Murchie said. "Going through that injury takes you out for a year, and your skill level and mentality drops down while other athletes tend to rise at that age.

"That drove me to get better no matter what. I just wanted to get back at the level I was and beyond that."

And she did just that, as the 18 year old leaves next week for her first camp at the University of Central Florida, where she accepted a full soccer scholarship.

The Kitchener native was first noticed by scouts when she was with the Heat, as the club team played in showcase tournaments throughout the southern U.S., including the Orange Classic. That's where Central Florida saw her. They made contact with her to let her know they were interested and last year, when she was eligible be contacted directly, she was at the top of their calling list.

Murchie, though, wasn't about to jump the gun and sign a letter of intent without reviewing her options.

Central Florida wasn't the only university interested; Boston University, Miami and Maine also had her in their sights. So she visited the campuses and Central Florida came out on top.

"I just had to go to Central Florida," she said.

"As soon as I went to Central Florida, it was just the environment the school had, the coaches, the girls on the team, and it just felt right. I felt best suited for the school."

Of course, the warm weather doesn't hurt.

"I love the sun," she said with a laugh.

Yet it was a long process, as she verbally committed to the school last year and signed her letter of intent in May. And there was a lot of soul searching before either one of those came to fruition.

"With university, everybody says it is the greatest time of their lives, but it's also a very big challenge,” she noted. “Going to university in the States I'll be far away from home and be away from my family and friends, so I want to make sure I'm as comfortable as I can be. So I wanted to make the right choice academically, socially and athletically."

Murchie said that when she first started playing rep soccer, her coaches pointed out girls playing at the provincial level and she strove to be on that team. When she made Team Ontario, she heard about girls who had NCAA scholarships, and that became her next goal.

"I just dreamed of that and now that it's becoming a reality. I just can't believe it."

Murchie said she's not just using her soccer skill as a springboard for an education, even though she’s taking the paralegal program in Florida and wants to continue on to law school.

Her next goal is to play for Team Canada in the Olympics or in FIFA.

"That's what I'm striving for."

And, it's hard to doubt her.


bdoucet@cambridgetimes.ca