For nearly eight months, Zandy Soree waited.
A massive blood clot — also called deep vein thrombosis — that developed in her left leg after a collision in practice pushed her to the sidelines during the offseason. Soree was also diagnosed with May-Thurner Syndrome, a rare condition in which the left common iliac vein is compressed.
While her teammates on the American Heritage girls’ soccer team trained in preparation to defend their three-time state championships, her playing career seemed to be in jeopardy.
Her senior season. The chance to play at the University of Central Florida. Another opportunity to compete with the Belgium National Team.
Instead of sulking in the potential negatives, Soree worked to get stronger each day.
Once she was cleared to play, nothing was going to stop her.
“It was incredible,” Soree, the Miami Herald’s Girls’ Class 5A-1A Athlete of the Year for Broward County, said Tuesday. “I was trying to get cleared a little bit early so I wouldn’t miss the start of the season.”
Soree excelled as the Patriots went on to claim their fourth straight class 3A state championship. By season’s end, she tallied a team-best 27 goals and 19 assists as an attacking midfielder despite dealing with pain in her leg each time she played.
“It takes a special player to be able to do that,” Heritage coach Cindy Marcial said. “ A lot of times when a player gets hurt like that, they kind of give up, but I feel like it made her stronger.”
Soree’s shining moment came in the state semifinals against Land O’ Lakes. Tied 1-1 at the end of regulation, the senior sealed Heritage’s spot in the title game with a penalty kick minutes into overtime. Heritage topped Ponte Vedra 2-0 one day later to take home the title.
While Soree’s in-game accomplishments were easily seen, Marcial said it was the senior’s growth as a vocal leader off the pitch that made the difference.
“This year, her senior year, we wouldn’t have been able to do it without her,” Marcial said. “She really led the team.”
Soree now heads to UCF to continue her soccer career and pursue a degree in nursing.
With the uncertainty of how long she will be able to continue playing because of her leg, Soree doesn’t plan to wait to make an impact.
“Hopefully my leg stays healthy enough to be able to get through these next four years and then after that I’ll be able to continue my soccer career,” Soree said. “It’s been my whole life. I don’t want to give it up yet.”