Buechel shines after two torn ACLs

Western Kentucky’s Amanda Buechel (left) kicks the ball away from Vanderbilt’s Dana Schwartz during the game Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012 at the WKU Soccer Complex. Vanderbilt defeated WKU 4-1.

Natalie Hayden

Senior forward Amanda Buechel has seen plenty of ups and downs during her WKU career.

Buechel, a Cincinnati native, began playing soccer when she was 3 or 4 years old, and it has always been her dream to play for a Division 1 school, she said.

While playing at a tournament for McAuley High School, Lady Topper coaches reached out to her about playing at WKU.

“I came to visit the school and fell in love with it right away,” she said. “I didn’t even really consider anywhere else after that.”

The Lady Toppers were Sun Belt Conference regular season champions her freshman year of 2007.

One year later she scored seven goals and recorded seven assists for a team that finished as Sun Belt Tournament runners-up.

But with two minutes left in a scrimmage against Kentucky during the 2009 spring season, Buechel went in for a tackle and tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left leg.

“I didn’t think anything like that could really happen,” she said.

Buechel sat out the fall season of her junior year and went to physical therapy, which she said was a lot of extra work.

She was released to play in the spring of 2010.

Then at a 7v7 tournament at Austin Peay the same season she was released to play, Buechel tore the ACL in her right leg when playing another WKU squad.

“That was the most devastating thing ever,” she said. “I worked so hard to get back to where I was and I lost it all again. It was a tough thing to swallow.”

Buechel went to physical therapy again for nine months, sitting out what would’ve been her senior fall season.

She played last year during her first year as a graduate student, and this season, her sixth, will be her last with the Lady Toppers.

However, after tearing her ACL for the second time, she said she had some doubts about whether or not to play again.

“I thought, ‘Should I really do this?’” she said. “But I did it one time so I knew I could do it again. (Soccer) is my life. Leaving it so quickly would be really hard to do.”

She had always dreamed about playing professionally after college, but said she isn’t sure now.

“After my two knee surgeries, I felt like I’ve taken steps backward instead of forward,” she said.

Coach Jason Neidell said he disagrees.

“When we tested out at the beginning, she’s come back faster and stronger in every single test than she’s ever been before,” Neidell said.

What got her through the two surgeries was all the support from family, friends and teammates, Buechel said.

“The best part, what got me through it and made me decide to play again, was everyone supporting me,” she said. “I can’t take full credit for how far I’ve come because it wasn’t just me.”

Earlier this season against Northern Kentucky, Buechel became the sixth player in program history to reach 20 career goals. She leads the team so far in goals this season with four.

She’s also gained some conference recognition.

Buechel was named Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week for the week of Aug. 27.

That was the second time in her career Buechel was named player of the week. The first was in her freshman season, five years ago.

It marked the first time in program history that a player was named Sun Belt Conference player of the week in two separate seasons.

Additionally, she was named the Madness Women’s Soccer Sun Belt Player of the Week by CollegeSportsMadness.com for her performance in the Ball State Tournament earlier this season.

Buechel majored in advertising and minored in sales during her undergraduate career at WKU.

She is currently pursuing her master’s in sport management and would like to make a career out of something sports related, she said.

Aside from soccer, Buechel said she enjoys drinking coffee and hanging out at coffee shops.

“But soccer is my life,” she said. “Usually even when I’m not playing I’m thinking about it.”

She said she also enjoys hanging out with her teammates.

The team’s goal is to win the Sun Belt Conference tournament championship, which has not happened yet in the program’s history.

WKU is 4-3 this season and starts Sun Belt play on Sept. 21 against Arkansas State.

“I feel like this team is closer than teams in years’ past,” she said. “We’re all on board with our goals, so it makes it easier.”