For women’s soccer goaltender Chloe Beizer ’07, the 2005 season brought new meaning to the oft-cliche concept of a watershed year. Second in the Ivy League in goals against average and fourth in save percentage, Beizer — who had played in just five games her first two years in the Elm City — was the heart of a defense that allowed just 10 goals in its 17 regular season games.
“When she’s in goal, her personality comes out on the field,” goalfellow Susan Starr ’08 said. “She talks everyone through everything and helps the defense act as a collective group and to understand all the possible scenarios. She sets a tempo with her style of play.”
2006 should have been an even better year for the senior netminder. Having recently recovered from a sports hernia, with high hopes of repeating last year’s Ivy League title and NCAA College Cup showing, Beizer eagerly anticipated the upcoming season.
“When preseason began, I was eager to get going,” Beizer said. “I knew that I’d have to take a fearless attitude in order to play up to my potential.”
But one save, during one preseason practice, cost Beizer the opportunity to see those goals through.
“I was going down for a low ball on a low-pressure breakaway,” Beizer said. “I planted my foot, went down for the ball and I heard two loud pops.”
Those two pops were the heartwrenching signals of an almost unimaginably gruesome injury. When Beizer looked down, her foot was oriented 180 degrees in the wrong direction, the result of a broken tibia and fibula, combined with a spiral fracture up the fibula and a loosened piece of her tibia floating around her ankle.
As Beizer fell to the ground, screaming and trying to turn her foot back in the correct direction, her teammates ignored her, chalking up the drama to the typical antics Beizer usually pulls to lighten up the mood at practices.
“Usually, I’m a big jackass during practice and joke around with my teammates by talking smack or being a loudmouth,” Beizer said. “I guess when I let out my first two yelps, my teammates and coaches thought I was just up to my usual nonsense.”
It took several moments of Beizer lying on the ground yelling for help before anyone realized the severity of the situation. As Beizer was rushed to the hospital, the team trainer and the EMTs began to worry about the lack of a pulse in her foot, which typically indicates the need for amputation.
But one month, a slew of doctors and a major surgery later, Beizer is back at the field on both feet — she’s just learning to play a new position.
“She’s coming to as many games as she can and it’s been a positive influence. She’s kind of a coach, talking from on the bench,” Starr said. “She understands what’s going on in the net and helps me see things at halftime and after games.”
Beizer, who watches the Bulldogs play from the sidelines with her cast propped up on the bench, has transitioned from starting goaltender to coach and personal motivator. Beizer’s voice mingles with that of Yale head coach Rudy Meredith and assistant coach Fritz Rodriguez during the Elis’ games, rising above the crowd’s cheers to shout directions at Starr, who stepped into the starting role with Beizer’s absence, and the defense. At halftime and during substitutions, Beizer will pull aside her teammates individually to offer a word of encouragement or advice about a particular aspect of their play.
“In general, there was a spirit and confidence loss when she was gone initially,” captain and defender Christina Huang ’07 said. “Now that she’s back, although she’s not on the field, people really trust what she says. She’s a huge, integral part of the character of the team in terms of team chemistry, performance on the field, and kind of being a third coach and helping out Rudy and Fritz.”
Beizer said doctors anticipate that she will be able to put weight on her foot and should begin walking by mid-October. As for the future of her soccer career, much rests on Beizer’s impending decision about whether to red-shirt this season. By taking this season off, Beizer would be able to return in the fall of 2007 and take the field with the Elis for one more year.
“Everyday I go back and forth what seems like 100 times on the decision to red-shirt,” Beizer said. “I guess I’m going to have to wait to see how I heal and how rehab goes before I make any final decisions.”
For now, the Bulldogs will continue to benefit from Beizer’s positive attitude, knowledge of the game, and extremely loud yell as they make another Ancient Eight title run.