One year and two weeks ago, Paula Jurewicz fell down and screamed feet away from Temple’s bench.
In the 12th minute of an American Athletic Conference match against Memphis Oct. 5, 2014 at Ambler Sports Complex, the 5-foot-4-inch defender from Holland, Pennsylvania, sprinted toward an over-played ball when she was pushed from behind, causing her right knee to hyperextend. She tore her ACL.
“You just never think it’s going to happen to you,” Jurewicz said. “I literally thought I was going to go out at 22 years old with no crazy injury ever, and then … it happened.”
Jurewicz said she had never felt more pain in her entire life.
“My ACL exploded and then my bones hit each other, so I think my bones hitting was what hurt so badly,” Jurewicz said. “That’s just not normal.”
Jurewicz played and started in Temple’s first 13 games in 2014, scoring two goals and helping the Owls to a 9-3-1 (2-1-1 The American) mark through four games of conference play.
In her absence, the team lost five of its final seven games, including a 2-1 loss to Southern Methodist in the first round of The American’s conference tournament to end the season.
Jurewicz, the Owls’ most vocal leader on the field, said it was difficult to watch from the sideline as her team struggled down the stretch in 2014.
“Last year, I couldn’t do anything on the field to help them win, but I knew that my voice and encouraging my team was what I had to do,” Jurewicz said. “It’s just a matter of doing your job and knowing your role, and last year my role at the time was just to be the cheerleader of the team and do my best to work hard to get back for the next season.”
Jurewicz, who was cleared to play in early July, is the “quarterback” of Temple’s all-senior back line, which has allowed more than one goal once in the team’s last 10 games.
She scored Temple’s first goal of the season in her first game back from injury during a 3-1 home win against Fairleigh Dickinson University Aug. 21, and she added her second goal of the year, tying a career high two days later in a 5-0 win against Delaware State University.
Through 17 games in 2015, Jurewicz has led the Owls to a 10-6-1 (2-4-1 American Athletic Conference) record while notching five points and one assist. She has surpassed a career high in shots with 21, nine on goal.
Jurewicz hasn’t scored in nearly two months, but her presence alone, coach Seamus O’Connor said, has made a significant difference this season.
“She uses all her ability and, unfortunately, if we had more players like that, we’d be pretty close to unbeaten this year,” O’Connor said. “She’s a great role model for the younger kids, and it helps us hold everyone accountable in terms of the way she plays and it’s the standard we want from the midfielders and the attackers.”
Tom Reifsynder can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Tom_Reifsnyder.