The center midfielder missed her entire freshman season due to a knee injury and sat out part of her sophomore year with a hamstring ailment, but made the All-East Region third team this fall as a senior and is a two-time All-Northeast-10 Conference selection.
The start of her soccer career at Southern New Hampshire University had to be delayed by a full year.
Ariana Silvia of Brockton was forced to sit out her freshman season in 2015 after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament and torn meniscus in her right knee while playing the previous spring.
It made for a long first semester for the former Enterprise All-Scholastic and 2015 Brockton High School graduate as she could only watch her new teammates and go through physical therapy.
“It was actually very hard,’’ said Silvia. “I had a friend on the team in Nerida (Montrond, another freshman from Brockton) and I knew Morgan Branco (a senior who was also from Brockton), but it was hard because I wasn’t getting to know the rest of the team on a soccer level. They didn’t know me that well.
“I was there and going through the motions with everyone else, but I couldn’t do the same things they were doing. A lot of times, I’d miss practice because I had to go to physical therapy appointments and things like that. It was hard to mesh with the team as much.
“I was part of the team, but it’s hard when you have to sit there and watch and there are certain things you can do but can’t prove it to anybody because you just have to wait.’’
By her sophomore season in 2016, Silvia was fully healthy and ready to go, starting at center midfield.
But after playing the first four games, Silvia tore her right hamstring while running in practice and had to miss the next six games.
“It was definitely annoying and made me question just kind of like is this ever going to end?’’ said Silvia. “Am I always going to have follow-up injuries connected to my right leg? They took part of hamstring out to repair ACL and I thought maybe that’s why (it was torn) because it was weaker.
‘I didn’t give up, though. I ended up finishing the season and told myself I’d come back even harder the next year.’’
Silvia did just that, making it through her junior and senior seasons without any problems and excelling both years while helping the Penmen go 29-7-8 and twice reach the NCAA Division 2 tournament.
Silvia made the United Soccer Coaches Division 2 All-East third team and the All-Northeast-10 Conference first team this season after earning a spot on the all-conference second team in 2017.
Playing mainly a defensive role while also helping with SNHU’s possession game, Silvia became one of the region’s top players when she put the injuries in the past. And she may return to play in the 2019 season as a graduate student, a decision that will be made in the upcoming months.
“Obviously, the ACL injury held her back a little bit, but she’s got that toughness to her that allowed her to bounce back as well as she possibly could have when she was able to play,’’ said Penmen coach Elie Monteiro, who played at Brockton High and Massasoit Community College. “She has really taken care of her body as far as raising her fitness level and that has allowed her to play injury-free for two seasons now and it’s been amazing. She really is an anchor for us in the center midfield
“I certainly thought she was capable of (being an all-conference player). I felt like she could reach a level that would put her arguably among the best at that position in the league.’’
Silvia committed to SNHU late in her senior year at Brockton High after another plan fell through. Montrond, a classmate and teammate with the Boxers, had already committed to the Penmen, and the coaching staff was well aware of Silvia.
But in May of her senior year at Brockton High, Silvia was playing for a club team, the Breakers, when she tore the ACL and meniscus.
“It was the last club game of the season. I almost wasn’t going to go to the game,’’ said Silvia. “It was right after the prom and I was down on Cape Cod with some of my friends and they didn’t want me to go, but I ended up going. I was just in a sprint trying to catch a girl going to the goal and something popped.
“We were playing 90 minutes away from home and I had driven there, so one of my teammates had to drive me back.’’
Surgery was performed in July of 2015 and there was plenty of physical therapy and rehabilitation to follow before Silvia could start running full tilt again in the spring of 2016.
She credits Montrond, who has since transferred to UMass Dartmouth, and Branco will helping get her through that long 2015 season.
“I had a tough freshman year, and I don’t know if I had gone anywhere else if it would have been any easier anywhere else,’’ said Silvia. “I think I had a lot of people that I was able to rely on and a good support system for what I was going through at the time. I definitely credit Morgan Branco. She was a great role model for me and took me under her wing when I needed it the most.’’
After tearing her hamstring in 2016 and missing the six games, Silvia was able to return for the final nine games, seven as a starter. She had two goals and three assists in 2017 when SNHU went 15-3-5 and scored her lone goal this season to beat Bentley, part of a 14-4-3 season.
The two injuries made Silvia determined that she would get in the best shape possible in order to finish her career strong.
“I was definitely more prepared than ever,’’ said Silvia, who has played 57 games with 55 starts. “Being able to get back in there (as a sophomore), but then kind of getting it taken away midseason just kind of crushed me for a little bit, but I just knew I didn’t want that to happen again.
“I just knew if I got stronger and got my muscles stronger that I’d be a little bit better off. Each year has gotten better. My junior year I was just really just ready to make somewhat of a difference on the field.’’
This season, the defensive-minded Silvia played her best soccer to help the Penmen get back to the NCAAs where they lost on penalty kicks to LIU Post in the first round.
“I definitely think this year was probably the best I’ve played,’’ said Silvia. “I’ve had a couple of years of experience of the college setting under my belt. I understand how to lift in the weight room after years of weight lifting. I’m just used to the type of fitness that you need to be doing in order to be in shape.
“I’ve just always been able to read the game and almost know where someone’s going to be or who’s going to get the ball before they get it. I’ve always been really good at defending. I have more traits and qualities of someone who is defensive minded.’’
A psychology major with a concentration in mental health and forensics and a criminal justice minor, Silvia will graduate in May. She is eligible to play another season due to a medical redshirt and is contemplating going to graduate school to make that happen.
“I’m trying to figure that out with grad school and everything,’’ she said. “I’ll decide that this winter.’’
Jim Fenton may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JFenton_ent.