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Baranek: Tinley Park’s Arden plays, dances on despite fracture

Tinley Park's Carlye Arden keeps positive attitude as broken leg keeps her out sectional semifinal vs. Marian Catholic. | Allen

Tinley Park's Carlye Arden keeps a positive attitude as a broken leg keeps her out of the sectional semifinal vs. Marian Catholic. | Allen Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 28, 2013 6:24AM



Being there for your teammates is one of the most important things a captain can do.

What Tinley Park senior soccer player Carlye Arden did on May 22, however, went well beyond doing her job.

Put it somewhere between courageous and, to be blunt, maybe a little crazy.

Arden and I talked about it as she sat in the aluminum bleachers at a recent practice She was sporting a cast on her fractured right leg, a crutch at her side. She looked a little bit frustrated at not being out there with them, but otherwise she was all smiles.

She said she was glad she left it all on the field … or in this particular case, the dance floor.

That’s another part of our story. But let’s start at the beginning.

When Arden took the field as a forward for the Titans in an Oak Forest Regional title match against the host Bengals, she had 26 goals in her career, 13 of them coming this season. She also had seven assists during the 2013 season.

Playing Oak Forest is a big thing to Arden. The Bengals are a Dist. 228 rival. Plus, there was history.

“Two years ago, my sophomore year, we went into a shootout with them and lost for conference,” she recalled. “During that I was going up for a header and I came down and their goalie kneed me in the back. I had a spinal contusion and had to go to the hospital.”

Arden already got her revenge, scoring two goals in a 5-0 victory earlier this season, but there’s always room for more. On top of that, the regional game happened to fall on the same day as Tinley Park’s prom. Big fun doesn’t come much bigger for a teenage kid.

At about the 12-minute mark of the first half, Arden was streaking down the left side with the ball when the drama began.

“I was just about to shoot when the girl on my right side hit me by my knee, and then the goalie hit me with her body from the other side,” she said.

Arden, needless to say, went down. But she didn’t stay down.

“While I was (laying) there I thought, ‘No, this isn’t the day to go out,’ ” Arden recalled.

So she got up. Realizing that she was having difficulty putting pressure on her right leg, she was assisted to the bench, where during a series of sessions with the trainer she did her best to convince him she was good to go.

“We both thought it was a deep bruise,” Arden said. “I told him that it was all right and I got up and started walking on it a little bit. He told me if I could get to 75 percent of my sprint I could go in.”

Arden was taped and wore a teammate’s knee brace in the second half. She narrowly missed scoring a goal. Then, with just under eight minutes remaining and the game still scoreless, a break came Tinley Park’s way.

“There was a foul in the corner right on top of the box,” Arden said. “We had practiced this play over and over the day before. And right when we set it up, I could feel it was going in.”

Arden’s role, to be a distraction in front of the goaltender worked to perfection. The shot by Jenna Rivera whistled past her head, away from the goalie, hit one of the goalposts and went into the net.

At that point, Arden came out of the game. Tinley Park went on to win 1-0, and afterward she and seven of her prom-going teammates headed for downtown Chicago.

When they arrived, Arden says she ran to the stage and announced to everyone there that the Titans were a regional champion.

“The whole prom busted out (cheering),” Arden said. “Oh, man, it was so fun.”

Still assuming that she was suffering from just a deep bruise, Arden danced and had fun for a couple of hours. It was only after she sat down and relaxed for a bit that her right leg stiffened up and started to swell. She says she had to be carried from the prom to her ride home, and from her ride home into the house.

The next morning Arden was taken by her father to an emergency care center, where an X-ray revealed the stunning news.

“The (doctor) said, ‘Oh, you have a tibia plateau fracture. What did you say you were doing yesterday?’

When I told him, he was like, ‘What? I don’t know whether to admire that or point out your stupidity. That’s kind of extreme.”

He apparently doesn’t know many captains. At least captains like Carlye Arden.

As it turned out, Arden didn’t have surgery. The blood was drained from around the break and a cast was put on her leg. She’ll be in that state for a handful of weeks before an MRI will eventually be done to determine if there was any ligament damage.

Her career is over, but not because of the injury. Even after she recovers from the fractured tibia plateau, Arden has no plans to be playing soccer in college.

She says if she had it to do all over, she’d talk her way into going back on the field again. She doesn’t blame the trainer at all for not recognizing her injury.

“I’m kind of glad that he thought it was a deep bruise,” she said, smiling. “If he’d have said he thought it was broken, I might have been psyched out. But the fact that he couldn’t tell made it that much easier to push through.

“I’m glad it ended the way it is. Other than the fracture, what better way to end then by winning a regional, and beating your rival on the day of prom? That chance comes once in a lifetime. I’m lucky.”



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