Charlie Lyon dreams of the day when he steps on the pitch as a professional soccer player. But after suffering a knee injury last summer that forced him to watch from the sidelines his entire freshman season at Marquette, the former St. Charles East goalkeeper understands how quickly a soccer player’s career can hit a stumbling block, or even end.
Still, Lyon is giving it his all to become the Golden Eagles’ No. 1 goalkeeper and keep his professional dreams alive.
Committed to Marquette since the winter of his junior year at East, Lyon was unable to take the field last fall for coach Louis Bennett’s team after suffering a torn left PCL while playing for the Chicago Fire Academy team in Kansas City.
Lyon came out to stop an oncoming forward, but his left knee struck his opponent’s leg and the ligament was torn when the tibia was shifted back.
He shook off the collision and stayed in the match, but it was decided that reconstructive surgery was the best option, and Lyon faced a 9-12-month recovery period.
“I didn’t choose this situation – I just chose to do my best to get my rehab done and get back on the field,” said Lyon, a redshirt freshman.
Just one day shy of the one-year anniversary of his knee surgery, Lyon made his first career start Aug. 17 in Marquette’s exhibition opener – a 2-0 victory at Loyola.
“I couldn’t even walk a year ago, and here I was back on the field playing in a game,” he said. “It doesn’t get much better than being under the lights and against live opposition.”
Bennett couldn’t have been prouder of Lyon overcoming an injury he said he’s never had a player suffer.
“It’s a very unusual injury,” Bennett said. “Usually it’s the ACL and the PCL.
“He accepted the fact he was injured and he worked his tail off. It’s fantastic when you see a player come back.”
Returning, though, was just the first step for Lyon. Next is securing the Golden Eagles’ starting job. Lyon is vying for that spot with juniors David Check and Ben Calvopina.
“We’re all real great friends even though we’re competing and want to be the one in goal,” Lyon said. “The competition forces you to do better.”
Bennett defers to associate head coach Stan Anderson when it comes to who starts in goal, but the former Milwaukee Wave midfielder loves Lyon’s size, athleticism and fearlessness in net, and he’s been impressed with the 19-year-old’s competitiveness and ability to accept critique.
“David Check’s been doing a good job for us, but he knows that Charlie is there,” Bennett said.
As satisfied as Lyon was to make his regular-season debut in Sunday’s 2-1 home-opening loss to Wright State, he’s also focused on his coursework and the possibility of going to medical school following graduation.
“I wanted players that would also represent the university well,” said Bennett, “and Charlie fits that mold. We really hit the jackpot when we got him. He’s a winner.”
• Matt Beardmore writes a weekly On Campus column for the Kane County Chronicle. If you have a column idea, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.