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Jeff Kolpack, Published July 27 2010

Bison soccer: Torn ACLs prompt training changes

It was over a year ago when the North Dakota State soccer coaches, trainers and the Bison team doctor held an ACL summit of sorts.

The goal: how to try to find a way to limit the knee ligament injury to NDSU players, which bordered on outrageous.

At one point, the Bison had six women on their roster that had an ACL in some stage of rehabilitation.

The result was a different stretching and conditioning regimen that consisted of three different segments. So far, it has head coach Pete Cuadrado enjoying the summer.

He’s also trying to knock on more wood than a sequoia forest.

“No complaints,” he said. “I just want to get started.”

You can’t blame him.

In 2007, nine of the 19 players on the roster had an ACL injury of some sort, be it an old high school injury or a college affliction. It wasn’t long into the 2008 season when Cuadrado had the following quote in The Forum: “Twenty percent of our team is on crutches.”

The Bison will start Aug. 6 with a veteran team of 11 juniors and three seniors.

Optimism is high for the defending regular season Summit League champions. They shared the title last year.

The hope is to take first place solo this year.

“We need to stay healthy and pick up where we left off,” Cuadrado said.

Since the Bison adjusted their pre-practice and pre-game routine, the only ACL injury was a contact tear to junior defender Megan Dean. And as Cuadrado put it, a contact injury is unavoidable.

Dean also suffered a stress fracture during rehabilitation but is expected back on the field in some capacity this fall. So is junior defender Abbey Stratton, who is recovering from a back ailment. She was a first team all-Summit pick last year.

“They may not be 100 percent in the beginning but they’ll be OK in the long run,” Cuadrado said. “Knock on wood, we’re pretty healthy right now.”

The major change in the routine was a strengthening routine that the players do every day on the field instead of twice a week in the weight room, Cuadrado said. The routine also includes a jumping component where the trainers pay close attention to the players’ landings.

Most of NDSU’s ACL tears in the past were the non-contact type and many of those came when on landings, whether be it jumping or running.

Saying the new routine is the sole reason cannot be verified. It’s possible the odds of nothing happening finally caught up to the Bison, too. But the early returns appear promising.

“Yeah, knock on wood,” said Scott Woken, NDSU’s director of sports medicine. “We’ve incorporated drills that are extremely specific to ACL prevention. We’ve taken bits and pieces from other ones and incorporated that into our regular routine.”

Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the WDAY Golf Show, 10-11 a.m. on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia.