By Michael Bower
Soccer coaches at the college level protect the few number of scholarships they have to offer like it’s the last drop of water on Earth. After all, their careers are often dependent on the talent they bring into the program.
That especially is the case with powerhouse women’s programs such as the one at Stanford University. So when the Cardinal extended a scholarship offer to Del Norte High’s Kyra Carusa, while she was still recovering from a broken femur bone, it spoke volumes about the junior.
“There have been athletes that when they get injured, if they had an offer, they get put on hold,” Nighthawks coach Gary Rossi said. “Getting one while being hurt just says a lot about Kyra.”
The offer from the Cardinal, which came last August and was happily accepted by Carusa, could not have come at a better time for the midfielder. She was in the middle of rehabbing a broken right femur bone suffered while playing for her club team, San Diego Surf, on Memorial Day last May.
“I was actually in a brace when they offered me,” said Carusa, who led Del Norte to its first CIF San Diego Section Division III championship game a year ago. “It was great, and it definitely showed they trusted I would come back full force. It was a big help and reassured me everything will be OK. It made me want to come back faster and work harder.”
Carusa suffered the injury when she and an opponent were racing toward the ball from opposite directions. They both hit one side of the ball and the pressure on Carusa’s leg broke the femur. She was told it would take six months before she could play again. Carusa was back in around three.
“It hasn’t slowed her down at all,” Rossi said. “She has so much tenacity. She is a true competitor.”
And that isn’t the only injury Carusa had to overcome. She also suffered a concussion last December while playing against Rancho Bernardo.
“It definitely puts things in perspective,” Carusa said of the injuries. “When you are playing, you have to be careful. It just makes you more aware of everything because you don’t think those things are going to happen until it happens.”
Carusa, who led the Nighthawks in goals (26) and assists (34) last season, has not missed a beat. In fact, she has been up to her old tricks — hat tricks that is — on the pitch.
She posted her second one of the season during the Nighthawks’ 5-3 win over San Marcos last Wednesday. The three scores gave her nine goals for the season. For her efforts, she is the Toyota of Poway Athlete of the Week.
“She is very coachable and is kind of like a coach on the field,” Rossi said. “She is constantly looking at stuff. I try to keep it down to three things at halftime and she brings up things she sees on the field. She is really one of the leaders on this team.”
Carusa, who carries around a 3.90 GPA, was getting looked at by several colleges. However, the only other visit she took aside from the one to Stanford was to UCLA.
“I think the number one reason I chose Stanford was because it is in the San Francisco area and I love San Francisco,” she said. “I have relatives up there and it is beautiful. That and academically they are one of the top schools in the nation. It was such a wonderful opportunity for me. There was no way I can turn them down.”
Now that Carusa has settled on her college, she hopes to bring Del Norte its first section championship in girls soccer. The Nighthawks came close last season, falling to Cathedral Catholic in the finals. Carusa is hoping this year the team can get over that hump.
“It would be amazing to win it all,” she said. “Especially with all of my friends here, because we have been working so hard. It would be a great reward for all of our hard work. If we do it or not, it is what it is, but it would be that icing on the cake.”
The Nighthawks, through Jan. 14, are 5-2-2. The team was slated to face Orange Glen on Tuesday in the Valley League opener. The Nighthawks will host Valley Center Thursday at 5:15 p.m.