By Rob Kiser
Piqua Daily Call
PIQUA — The scoreboard showed Piqua girls soccer team’s 7-0 victory over West Carrollton Wednesday night on the Wertz Stadium soccer pitch.
But, that really wasn’t the story
It was about the smile on number 12’s face.
Piqua sophomore Elise Cox was back on the pitch for the second straight game this week after fighting through a long ordeal with pancreatitis.
“It is just great to be out here with my teammates playing the game,” Cox said after the win. “It just feels great to be able to do that.”
And it is amazing what Cox has overcome — throughout her life and in the last year.
“It is really hard to understand what Elise (Cox) has been through,” Piqua High School athletic director Chip Hare said. “This is not somebody coming back from a torn ACL. This is someone who was dealing with a life-threatening issue. To not be able to eat food and digest it for much of her life. Now, she is just working on getting back to being healthy and living a normal life.”
Which is what it is all about for Cox — and the reason for the big smile.
“It has changed everything,” Cox said about a 10-hour surgery last winter and then more surgery this past summer. “It has changed my whole outlook and perspective on life.”
And while that looms much larger than anything that happens on a soccer pitch, returning to the field is a part of Cox’s “new normal” — and it is amazing it happened so fast.
“I had a setback this summer and was back in the hospital,” Cox said. “So, I never expected to play this year. I thought I was going to have to set this year out.”
Piqua girls soccer coach Bret Ritter is amazed as well.
“No, I never thought I would (see her on the field this year),” Ritter said.
And the accomplishment was not lost on her teammates.
“I think you could see that (what an inspirations she is) Monday against Wayne,” Ritter said. “She played a little bit Monday and then she played again tonight. It just shows you what heart she has.”
As for the game itself, it was a much needed break from a tough schedule as the Lady Indians rolled to a win.
Piqua nearly doubled its goals for the season, with just eight coming in and having been shut out its last four games.
“This is something we are going to build on for sure,” Ritter said. “I talked about using a new formation to help the offense. We really hadn’t been able to do that, because we had a stretch of tough games. We tried that a little bit tonight and I think it worked pretty well.”
Tayler Grunkemeyer had started the games scoring, drilling the ball into the net from 25 yards out after taking a cross from Audrey Evans.
It stayed 1-0 for much of the first half, before Piqua scored three goals in the final 12 minutes of the half and added three more in the second half.
Raylynn Ward and Kara Went scored two goals each, while Whitney Evans scored off a Went assist.
Grace Forness scored a goal, following a Colleen Cox corner kick and Audrey Evans sending the ball towards the goal, while Lilla Miller had a corner kick for an assist.
“You can see the way the JV players play when they are out there,” Ritter, whose team has been plagued by injury, said. “We are trying to change the culture.”
Afterwards Hare marvelled at what Cox has been able to do.
“She had to go back in the hospital this summer and she just came right back,” Hare said. “It just shows you how much courage and heart Elise (Cox) has.”
The win improved the Indians to 2-8-1 overall and 1-4-1 in MVL play, while West Carrollton dropped to 0-9 overall and 0-5 in MVL play.
Piqua gets a break in the schedule before hosting Miami East Monday — and you can be sure Elise Cox will bring her big smile as she continues to adjust to her “new normal”.