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Better than ever

Gianna Costanzo tore her ACL 10 seconds into her varsity career. Now she is recovered and a starting defender for Archbishop Ryan.

Title hopes: Gianna Costanzo has the Ragdolls in first place in the Catholic League. PHOTO: GINA COSTANZO

The excitement lasted nearly 10 seconds.

Gianna Costanzo, then a sophomore, was called up to play for the Archbishop Ryan High School varsity soccer team. She got on the field, went to make a play and her season quickly came to an end.

“It was, seriously, 10 seconds into my varsity career and I tore my ACL,” Costanzo said. “I really didn’t think that’s what it was. I just thought I pulled something, but I got an MRI and I needed surgery. It took a lot longer to get better than I thought it would. I had to do nine months of physical therapy.”

That’s not the end of Costanzo’s struggles.

She made a full recovery and was able to get back on the field for her junior year. The knee was healed but it took a while to get over the psychological aspect of the injury.

“I was very apprehensive at first,” Costanzo said. “I was scared. The worst part was I wasn’t playing much and then one game I didn’t get any minutes. It was pretty difficult. I wanted to play, but I couldn’t really play because I wasn’t playing the way I could. It wasn’t the knee, though.”

The knee is now healthy.

Once again, Costanzo has full confidence in her knee and her game. And because of that, the starting stopper has the Ragdolls heading in the right direction.

Ryan is atop the Catholic League standings at 10–0–1. This comes one year after the Ragdolls watched their string of four straight Catholic League championships come to an end.

“I think last year, we thought we were going to win because we always won before that and maybe we weren’t as ready as we should have been,” Costanzo said. “We worked hard, but I think we’re working harder this year because we know how hard it is to win.

“This year, we have a lot of seniors. Last year, we didn’t have a lot. I think we’re playing harder because we know this is our last year.”

The seniors are leading the way, and Costanzo is happy she can contribute to the cause, especially in the leadership department.

Not only is she offering advice when needed, she’s helping injured players get back in the game, both physically and mentally.

“One of my teammates (Grace Camillo) tore her ACL last year and this year she was trying to come back,” Costanzo said. “I just try and tell her it’s normal to be nervous. I was nervous, so I wanted her to know it gets better. I had to play with a brace on for a few months, and that takes some getting used to. She’ll be better when she gets used to everything, but when you’re first back, it’s hard. I’m just trying to help her by telling her it gets better.”

Costanzo has found success on the soccer field, but she’s doing even better in the classroom. The senior is ranked №8 in her senior class of more than 400 students.

“I do well in school, my favorite subjects are history and psychology,” said Costanzo, who is an ambassador for the school and also in the National Honor Society. “I think they’re really interesting. I’m not sure (what she’ll study in college), but I’m thinking about business, maybe. I’m not sure where I’m going, I’d like to play soccer, but I’m not positive. I’m still figuring everything out.”

One thing she’s certain of is what she and her teammates have their sights set on, and that’s regaining the Catholic League championship.

Among their triumphs are a 2–0 win over Archbishop Wood and a 1–0 victory over St. Hubert. Both teams are expected to make noise in the playoffs.

Ryan has also been particularly stingy.

The Ragdolls have surrendered only two goals thus far in Catholic League play, and the stopper believes that could pay dividends as the weather turns colder.

“I think we know we can do it because we’ve played against the best teams in the Catholic League and we haven’t lost yet,” Costanzo said. “We played Lansdale Catholic, they’re really good, and we tied 1–1. I think after that, we realized we can play with anyone, and we have the confidence that we can beat anyone.

“The seniors know this is our last year, and winning was so much better than losing. It’s going to take a lot of work from all of us, but it’s worth it. Winning is so much better.” ••

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