Nadal overcomes injuries, commits to college soccer

Megan Nadal’s journey with soccer has not always been easy,  between torn ACLs and struggling with her confidence. But she has overcome those obstacles and now has  committed to play college soccer at St. Mary’s University in Winona, Minnesota. 

The Diamond Bar High School senior chose Division III soccer at SMU because she said she believed it was the best balance of academics and athletics for her. 

“I wanted to prioritize my academics but still wanted to play college soccer,” Nadal said. “I think if I pushed myself for a higher division my body would have burnt out quicker due to the amount of injuries I went through.”

Nadal has endured multiple injuries throughout her athletic career. Beginning in eighth grade, injuries were frequent until her senior year. Due to the extent of her injuries, she even had to sit out soccer season in her junior year. During her freshman and sophomore seasons, Nadal played goalkeeper for DBHS girls soccer. 

Nadal suffered from three concussions, all of which involved contact with another player on a corner kick. Going into her freshman year, she tore her right ACL/meniscus. 

“The first time it was at a goalkeeper training session,” Nadal said. “My knee had just recovered from a knee sprain and all it took was a step to the right and my knee buckled.”

The second time she tore the ACL was on her left knee just before her junior year season. 

“This time around, I was guest playing for a team in San Diego during a college showcase,” Nadal said. “It was a free kick and the ball went straight up and all I saw was the sun which made me lose track of the ball; since I lost track of the ball while in the air my balance and weight were shifted and I landed straight on my left leg and my knee buckled again.”

Nadal said that while these injuries affected her physically, they had even more of an effect on her mental health. 

“My mentality went downhill and when I came back my confidence was hurt the most because the amount of coaches that looked down on me due to the injury,” Nadal said. “Since the coaches looked down on me, I second guessed myself quite often and doubted my abilities of being a good goalkeeper.”

Prior to this injury, Nadal said that she relied on her natural talent to succeed on the soccer field. However, when she returned to practice after her injury, Nadal had to work twice as hard to keep up with her teammates. 

“These were the main injuries that pulled me back the most in my soccer career but I did not let that get in the way of accomplishing one of my goals of becoming a college student athlete,” Nadal said. 

Junior year is very critical in the sports recruitment process but due to her injuries, Nadal was unable to play last season. 

It was really tough for me to get noticed because I was missing out on major events to get exposed to schools,” Nadal said. 

She said that because of this, she was losing hope. However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced all athletes to sit out their season. Nadal said that at this point, she began to take more control of her recruitment process. 

Nadal attributes her success to the support of her parents and her best friend, who also plays soccer. 

“Since my best friend, Shantell Luna, has a similar lifestyle as mine, we are able to relate to each other from struggles to successes,” Nadal said. “We both lifted each other up when we were able to play on the same field.”

Before she was injured, Nadal was involved with club soccer teams Arsenal FC and Legends FC. In addition, Nadal has received several awards during her soccer career. 

During her sophomore season, she received Honorable Mention in the athletics conference and Rookie of the Year within the schools soccer program. With her club Legends FC, Nadal won the National Cup, California Regional League, and Farwest Regionals in Idaho.

Nadal has already met her new teammates on Zoom. Coincidentally, DBHS alumni Alexis Ngyuyen from the class of 2019 is on Nadal’s team. 

She said that she is excited to begin the next chapter of her athletic career.