Bountiful • Viewmont High girls soccer star Heidi Lorscheider sat helpless, sidelined by a fractured back for eight months as her teammates scored the goals and won the games.
Lorscheider, now fully healthy at last, stands on that same sideline and reflects on how she's ended up here, near the end of her senior season, a year in which she's been among the state's most productive players.
The struggle has only made the success sweeter for Lorscheider.
"I had to sit forever. Now, playing again is just a lot more fun," said Lorscheider, who will play at Westminster College next year. "It was hard. I just wanted to go out there and help them. I just wanted to be able to play with them.
"I've definitely realized how big of a part soccer is in my life. Not being able to play it, I didn't know what to do."
A year ago, it would have been difficult for Lorscheider to predict where she would be now, or what she'd have to go through to get here.
Back then, she played defense for a Vikings team that would go on to lose in the 5A championship for the second straight season, and the prospect of not playing soccer for eight months was unthinkable.
But now, she's perhaps the biggest reason the Vikings (14-1, 9-0 Region 2 entering this week) finally may cap their season with a title. And in an odd twist of fate, her back injury is one reason why.
Lorscheider watched, unable to play and her senior season looming. She watched what her teammates did, and she watched how the opponents reacted. She watched the whole field, and she watched how one play connected to the next.
A fractured back could stop her from playing, but it couldn't stop her from becoming a smarter soccer player.
"I feel like I learned a lot from watching," she said. "More than I would have learned from playing."
The dividends have been substantial. Lorscheider, who now plays forward, has 15 goals in 15 games, good enough for fifth in Class 5A. And she's become a player the opposition must account for at all times.
"She's just been dynamic for us," Viewmont coach Emily Tate said. "She can go at people, she's very good with her feet and dribbling as well as ... making the keeper make a save. She does a great job all around."
The success wasn't immediate. Lorscheider wasn't quite fully healthy at the beginning of the season, and she played timid at times, worried she again would hurt her back.
"That was really hard for me because I knew I could be playing better," she said. "But now, I feel like I'm almost back to normal."
The numbers agree. Lorscheider scored just twice in the Vikings' first six games, but she has 13 goals in their last nine games.
Not coincidentally, Viewmont has won those games by an average of nearly six goals, giving the Vikings plenty of momentum heading into the state playoffs.
"I'm excited. I want to make it as far as we can go, and I think we can make it really far this year," Lorscheider said. "The past two years, we've made it far, and I want to keep that going."