NA’s Smith tries to bounce back at Bloomfield from second ACL injury

It’s safe to say that Savannah Smith wishes to remove the date of Oct. 15 from her date books and calendars.

It’s a day that the former North Arlington High School and current Bloomfield College soccer standout won’t soon forget.

On Oct. 15, 2016, while enjoying a sensational sophomore season at North Arlington, Smith suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) against Garfield, abruptly ending that season with 16 goals. Smith had already scored her 16th goal of the season in that match and was well on her way to a 30-goal campaign.

Smith rehabilitated the knee successfully, but it took a lot of hard work and dedication to do so. It was eight months of rigorous physical therapy on a daily basis to get the knee strong enough to play again.

Smith went on to have a spectacular career with the Vikings, scoring 36 goals in 2017 and one better in 2018 to finish her brilliant stint at NA with 107 goals, one of only a handful of girls from northern New Jersey to register more than 100 goals during her high school career.

Smith’s stint at NA enabled her to secure a scholarship to Bloomfield College to play soccer there.

So turn the clock ahead to Oct. 15, 2019 and Smith was playing in a college match against neighboring rival Caldwell University.

“My teammate sent me a through ball into the box and I got taken down from behind,” Smith recalled. “I got taken down at the knee.”

Yes, the very same knee on the very same date. Even Alanis Morrissette isn’t that ironic.

“That same feeling came right back,” Smith said. “I knew right away that it was most likely torn again.”
Sure enough, Smith’s intuitions were right. She tore the same ligaments in the same knee.

But this time, Smith’s injuries were so severe that they had to take a ligament from her thigh and transplant it into her knee.

For an athlete to survive one ACL surgery is brutal enough, but two?
“It was very tough on me mentally,” Smith said. “But this time, I was more patient. I knew what to expect. In high school, I wanted to get back out there as soon as possible and score more goals. I knew that my chances to reach my goals (the 100-goal plateau) were running away from me.”

Smith had the best approach this time around.

“I decided that if I could get through it once, I could do it again,” Smith said.

So three days after the injury, Smith had the reconstructive surgery performed on her knee at Mountainside Hospital in Glen Ridge.

“I was definitely more determined this time, because a lot of people said that I couldn’t make it back,” Smith said. “The first time, I was a sophomore in high school and there was a lot more pressure on me. This time, I just wanted to prove that I could be able to come back.”

Smith was aided by the fact that the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic had already put a halt on this upcoming season for Bloomfield, so she really didn’t have to rush to come back. She could rehab the injury on her own timetable, as Bloomfield has already expressed the plans of playing soccer in the spring of 2021 as opposed to this fall.

“I felt like I was doing pretty well,” said Smith, who has been playing either forward position for the Bears. “I was able to run, shoot, handle the ball. There are some things I’m actually doing better now than when I hurt my knee the first time. I feel great.”

And Smith said that she never once thought about giving up the game she has loved to play since she was a little girl.

“I never thought that it was the end,” Smith said. “I didn’t want to walk away from soccer this way. Since it was moved to the spring, it’s perfect for me. I know I’ll be ready. I’ll do whatever is comfortable for me.”

Smith is already making her mark as a student at Bloomfield, having earned Dean’s List honors in both semesters at the school, recording a 3.7 grade point average. As she begins her sophomore year in college, Smith is still uncertain about a field of study. Although she is currently a psychology major, things may change.

After the experiences she has endured, Smith already has an expertise in a certain field.

“I might be looking into going into the PT (physical therapy) field,” Smith said. “I like being in that environment. I see the way the trainers all helped me and I really think I want to help others that way.”

Smith doesn’t bemoan what has happened to her now on two occasions. It’s just made her stronger, emotionally and physically, and makes her ready for the challenges ahead.

“It’s just unfortunate the way things happened,” Smith said. “It’s just the way the play went. But I’ll be ready to play.”

And that’s great news for everyone in North Arlington who has followed the exploits of Savannah Smith. After enduring two ACLs, she deserves only good things from this point forward.




North Arlington resident Savannah Smith of Bloomfield College is rehabilitating a second torn ACL injury. Photo courtesy of Savannah Smith


Savannah Smith, the former 100-goal scorer for North Arlington High School, got to see plenty of action at Bloomfield College last fall before suffering a second torn ACL knee injury. Photo courtesy of Savannah Smith



Learn more about the writer ...

Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”