Stephanie Dansereau could have been the greatest soccer player in Langley's history if she had been able to play more than the two years her swollen ankles and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury allowed her. Dansereau was the engine in the Saxons Liberty District powerhouse machine, but injuries kept her off the field for nearly two full seasons and the Saxons suffered because of it.
"I shouldn't have played her," said Langley coach Melissa Bibbee, who recently broke the 100-win milestone after completing her ninth season with the Saxons this year. "She had both ankles operated on."
Bibbee contends that, in retrospect, even though Dansereau, who suffered from tightness in her ankles, was cleared by doctors to play in her sophomore year after undergoing surgery on both of her ankles to relieve swelling, she shouldn't have seen time on the field.
"BOTH ANKLES were extremely tight and they would swell up to the size of softballs," remembered Bibbee. "She was really into fitness. Any time she would do any running, they would swell up and she would be limping."
Dansereau did not want to miss her sophomore year after such a breakout season as a freshman. Dansereau — only a freshman — was a first team all-Liberty selection, a second team all-region selection and led the Saxons to the semifinals of the Northern Region tournament — where the team lost a 1-0 match to Robinson to end its season at 10-7-1.
According to a team web site, as a freshman, Dansereau led the Saxons in all offensive categories including goals scored (8), assists (14) and shots on goal (73).
With Dansereau at what Bibbee called 50-percent health in her sophomore year — a year in which she saw limited action — the Saxons struggled to a 7-6-2 record and as Dansereau watched from the sidelines through a junior year, in which she sat out after ACL surgery, Langley finished with an 8-9 record.
According to Bibbee, Dansereau drew interest from nearly 20 Div. 1 college soccer programs after her freshman year. After injuries plagued her, "She was recruited by only two or three schools after that," said Bibbee.
DANSEREAU'S IMPACT was felt in her senior year (2005) when she made the ultimate comeback after nearly two years of injuries. She was a tri-captain and was put at center-mid, away from the forward position in which she had thrived as a freshman. She stilled scored at will.
"My junior year is when I got to experience her best," said Langley 2006 graduate Caity Comstock. "She and Kimmy [Germain] working together was so fun to watch. She was one of the hardest working defensive and offensive players that I've worked with."
Germain, also a standout at Langley, went on to play at James Madison University.
Dansereau boosted Langley to one of its best records in Bibbee's 9-year history at Langley (15-3-1) with 10 assists, six goals, and 25 shots on goal in her senior year.
She was named the Liberty District Player of the Year, she was selected to the first-team all-region and was a second-team all-state selection.
"When we needed big goals, she would pull through," added Comstock. "She was a good mix. On the field, she was a really good communicator. She gave good advice and was never negative and not too rowdy and got everyone focused."
Dansereau, who continued her soccer career at Purdue University, was again hit by injury. A calf injury kept Dansereau off the Boilermakers's roster. According to Bibbee, Dansereau will see time for Purdue this season after contributing to the spring soccer team.
"She would have been the best player [in Langley's girls soccer history] if she hadn't gotten injured," said Bibbee.
Stephanie Dansereau is 96 in a survey of the area's Top 100 Athletes by Connection Newspapers in 2000.