The women’s soccer game was delayed 45 minutes on Oct. 15 when Stephanie Gutierrez thought she was dying.
She wasn’t, but the mind can play awful tricks when the body is hurt. She had to wait for medics to gingerly lift her battered and bruised body and remove her from the field.
It was a warm, sunny day, which made it difficult on the body while running for a long period of time; and to top things off, Gutierrez had taken a few soccer balls off her stomach and back, knocking the wind out of her. She took a break and played again in the second half, but took a knee to the back and by the end, she was in too much pain to even stand, she said.
“My back started to hurt, so I stopped feeling my hands and my feet,” she said.
“So in my head everyone was telling me, ‘you can’t feel your hands and your feet, oh my god, you broke your back,’” Gutierrez said. “So it was like a panic attack, I stop breathing, I couldn’t catch my breath, and in the moment, honestly, I had nothing on my mind other than I’m dying.”
Despite being in so much pain while Gutierrez received medical attention and was taken care of, her team was there by her side every step of the way.
“When I was getting on the ambulance, they all ran over and were like, ‘we love you,’ and I started to cry,” she said. “It just made me feel so good that people care and it is not just a team where you come here, you play and you leave, but we continue to talk and continue to be there for each other and it’s a really good feeling.”
Gutierrez returned to the field on Oct. 18 to play the team’s final regular season game. She was happy she was able to play a bit, since she was unsure if she would be able to, she said.
The final game was a close battle until the end, but it finished in a 1-0 loss for the Hawks against Seneca College.
“We really played well this game, no matter the outcome,” Gutierrez said. “I honestly think we deserved it, but either way we are going to have a next game and we’re going to try just as hard.”
Parents were yelling from the side lines and with only a couple minutes left before the half, Humber had a free kick, so goalkeeper Vanessa Fiore took the kick and pushed her team up, but Hawks just could not see the back of the net.
“Come on ref, are you kidding me?” a mother from the audience said, referring to Seneca’s goalie Sarah-Anisha Van Wart Bradbury after she caught the ball. “Aw, come on, she was in the net. Hah, I tried.”
Hawks may have found the board in losses, but that does not mean they will not try and turn it into another win.
“I think this will show a lot, just because now we have to bounce back, we’re down,” midfielder Rachel Spratt said. “This is where all the talent is going to show and I think the biggest thing we can take [from the game] is finishing our opportunities.”
Previous games were all very close in terms of play and although Humber had been taking in all kinds of wins, the loss will only push them to play harder moving forward.
“I think on any given day any team could beat any other team,” coach Mauro Ongaro said. “So it’s intense, it’s always a battle till the 90th minute.”
The Humber Hawks will take on Durham Lords in their qualifying game Sunday at the Ontario Soccer Centre.