Sept. 23, 1997

Swenberg Back up to Speed

Fully recovered from a knee injury, the fourth-year goalkeeper has helped the Cavaliers to a 6-0-1 start

Whether starting or coming off of the bench, fourth-year goalkeeper Brit Swenberg's versatility has proven invaluable to the Cavaliers. After starting eighteen games in her second year, an off-season tear to her anterior cruciate ligament presented Swenberg with the prospect of a grueling rehabilitation process. During a difficult third year, Swenberg, still hobbled by her injury, never fully regained her groove while backing up All-ACC 'keeper Megan Boehm. Though the end of her career at Virginia is near, the 1997 season provides a healthy Swenberg with a new beginning.

A native of Durham, N.C., Swenberg's desire to remain close to home along with Virginia's strong academic and athletic reputation made her decision to play for the Cavaliers an easy one. "I fell in love with the campus and the atmosphere and I loved the chemistry the team had," says Swenberg.

Swenberg appeared in one game her first year as a backup to Becky Hornberger, sharing a shutout of Wake Forest. As the starting keeper in her second season, Swenberg took full advantage of the opportunity by recording six shutouts in eighteen starts, including a stretch where she held opponents scoreless for 329 consecutive minutes. The potential she demonstrated was tempered immediately after the season by the ACL injury. "I was playing really well," says Swenberg. "I tore my ACL and it took six months before I was cleared to play again, which was the start of preseason."

The emergence of Boehm coupled with Swenberg's continuing recovery from the injury proved frustrating. She did not start a game and saw action on just four occasions in 1996. "The injury was a hindrance last year," Swenberg admits. "It gave me some problems throughout the season and affected my play."

The adversity Swenberg faced last season has made her a better player in the end. "It was really hard last year, but it was a growing experience for me," says Swenberg. "My knee feels good now and I am playing well." With Boehm sidelined with an injury in early September, Swenberg started in goal for the first three games of the season. She held George Mason scoreless in a game shortened by darkness and helped Virginia defeat Penn State 5-2, demonstrating that she has recovered physically and mentally. "I think I have put last year behind me," says Swenberg. "I want to keep playing well and hopefully everything will go well."

A biology major, Swenberg looks forward to pursuing a career in marine biology. Before she graduates, however, she has some business to take care of on the soccer field. "I think we have a realistic chance to win the ACC title this year," says Swenberg. "We have a good shot at making it happen." And if the Cavaliers keep playing like they have so far in 1997, Swenberg could also have a chance to return to her home state and play for a national championship in Greensboro, N.C.

Being from just outside of Chapel Hill, Swenberg admits to being a North Carolina fan in her youth. But, with the Cavaliers being 0-4 against the Tar Heels during her four seasons, she looks forward to another chance at beating the school she once cheered for. "Playing North Carolina is always big for us," says Swenberg. "It's nice to play them at home this year, but that game is still a long way off."