Over a year ago the UW-Superior men’s soccer team suffered a major loss, not on the scoreboard but with one of their players on the field.
In an exhibition match against Hamline University on Aug. 25, 2022, Center Back William Maanstroem tore his Anterior Crucial Ligament.
“Everything had been going pretty smooth for me the two previous years, I’ve just been playing and going to school and out of nowhere my ACL just snaps.”
Maanstroem came to the UWS campus in 2020 after growing up in Sweden which created a tougher recovery process for him.
“I’m not from around here so I did it all by myself,” said Maanstroem. “I had my friends, my teammates and my coaches but at the hospital it was all me, I had to make sure I got everything and it was not easy.”
He soon realized he did have support here, when he was able to attend the Yellowjackets Saturday night matchup against Concordia just over a week later.
“Before the game I felt like I didn’t really have a role on the team, and that’s something we talk a lot about on the team.”
However, once the game started his teammates began asking him for help, “It was just, brightening because I came from this place where I kind of felt alone, but when I realized that the guys valued me for my opinions and who I was as a person it kind of clicked for me and from there I just cruised along,”
He cruised along into his surgery at Essentia Health in Duluth on Oct. 14, after which he immediately began rehabbing with one thing in mind.
“I had to go into that mindset of ‘how do I come back as soon as possible?’ because what I ended up going into is this mindset of ‘if I stop now, that means I might not be ready to go in August next year,” said Maanstroem.
This mindset was similar to one head coach Joe Mooney noticed the year before the injury, when Maanstroem, a sophomore at the time, climbed his way into the starting lineup by the end of the season and then went right to work in the offseason.
“We talked about some of the work we wanted to see him put in in the offseason… and when he came back in August it was kind of like we were looking at a different Will,” said Mooney.
Unfortunately, William was only able to feel the satisfaction of the work for about two weeks. Even though Maanstroem couldn’t be on the field he found a new role with the team on the sideline.
“(William wanted to) Find a different way to help the team win and when he couldn’t do it on the field he was doing it on the touchline, he was still at training every day, he was at games every day, even the one he probably shouldn’t have been at on the day of the surgery,” Mooney said letting out a laugh.
Noticing this, Mooney made a decision that isn’t very common in the sports world. Naming Maanstroem a captain of the team not for what he had done on the field but off it.
“He got the arm band during his time away from the field. It’s one of the prouder moments I’ve had as a coach, to watch a player like really use that adversity to help define himself in a way that was so meaningful not just to him but our whole team,” said Mooney.
Maanstroem made his return to the field in August, training with the team during the pre-season before his first game back.
On Sept. 3, William took the field as UWS faced a national tournament team in UW-Eau Claire. “We knew it was going to be a massive game, and he balled out, (a) big reason why we came back from behind in that game,” said Mooney about Maanstroem’s first game back.
UWS ended in a tie with Eau Claire in the first match of the season but since then, Maanstroem and the men’s soccer team have a 6-2-2 record as they look to be UMAC champs for the seventh year in a row.