No bend in Guilford's D

New Haven Register—NEW HAVEN, Conn.—October 12, 2009

Replacing players who graduate is tough enough for soccer teams to do. Replacing great players who suffer unexpected injuries make the challenge that much more difficult.

Guilford had plenty of experienced players returning from last season's Class LL state semifinalist. But the chance at advancing further this season took a blow in August when sweeper Chris O'Brien, last year's Register Area MVP, had hip surgery to replace a torn labrum. His rehabilitation will take up to six months to complete.

“This is one of the most devastating things that has happened to me,” O'Brien said. “Hopefully, it is a blessing in disguise and everything works out for me. ... I want to play soccer in college and after that. So if I do plan on playing soccer in the future, surgery was my best option.”

O'Brien attends all practices and games. He is starting his third month of physical therapy after surgery on Aug. 8.

O'Brien said he pulled a groin muscle playing soccer in the spring which never improved. It took the opinion of the fourth physical therapist the family sought to get an MRI done. That's when O'Brien was told he had a torn labrum, leaving the soccer star with two options: receive a cortisone shot or have the surgery to repair the labrum muscle.

“Of course, it ran through my mind to get the cortisone shot instead in order to help my team, because we knew this year we had a really solid team returning.”

Dr. Bryan Kelly, an orthopedic surgeon and assistant team physician for the New York Giants, performed the surgery on O'Brien at Hospital for Special Surgery.

O'Brien hopes he will be cleared to start jogging by mid-November. By then, he also hopes Guilford will be in the midst of a state championship run.

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