‘I thought I was going to be blind’: Iowa soccer goalie Macy Enneking talks injuries, return to the field

Enneking returned on Oct. 9 at Minnesota, after missing a month and a half with multiple injuries.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa goalkeeper Macy Enneking punches the ball during a soccer game between Iowa and Northern Illinois at the University of Iowa Soccer Complex in Iowa City on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Huskies, 4-2.

Sam Knupp, Sports Reporter

Content Warning: The following story has images that may be graphic to some viewers. 

Junior goalkeeper Macy Enneking returned to the Iowa soccer starting lineup on Oct. 9 at Minnesota after missing a month and a half with multiple injuries.

Enneking had been out with a broken nose and cracked orbital since Aug. 21 when she collided with teammate Halle Skibo during a game at Cal Poly.

During her first game action in 49 days, the Hilliard, Ohio, native played all 90 minutes, made four saves, and allowed one goal.

“It was really great,” Enneking said. “… I’m out there playing the game I love again, with a team that I trust, and love playing behind.”

Enneking was cleared to compete and fully participate in practice a week before she returned to game action.

The junior said she had a feeling she was going to start the Minnesota game when fellow goalkeeper Monica Wilhelm picked up a red card in the Michigan game. The card meant Wilhelm would have to sit out the game against Minnesota.

“Once I saw that, I kind of knew that I had to step it up,” Enneking said.

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Enneking said getting back to practicing at full speed was more challenging mentally than physically.

“I definitely had to get back into the mindset of, ‘Hey, I’m strong, I’m able to compete,’ especially with the strong Big Ten players,” Enneking said.

Enneking said when the injuries occurred, she wasn’t sure what happened. She was briefly knocked out and couldn’t see out of her right eye because of how quickly it swelled up.

“My emotions were all over the place for a couple of seconds,” Enneking said. “I thought my career was over because I couldn’t see anything out of my right eye, so I thought I was going to be blind.”

Contributed by Macy Enneking.

The goalkeeper said she calmed down when athletic trainer Annica Morrison reassured her that swelling was the reason her vision was blocked.

Enneking was immediately taken to a local emergency room but was cleared to leave after two hours.

While the impact of the collision was predominantly on the goalkeeper’s nose and right eye, the broken nose caused a bruise to form under Enneking’s left eye as well.

The goalkeeper said going to class like this was interesting, adding that her injuries were how many of her classmates found out she’s an athlete.

“I got a lot of weird funny looks because I had a nose cast on and two black eyes as well,” Enneking said. “My whole [cornea] was completely red … It was funny I don’t think anyone really had the courage to ask me what happened. I don’t know if that was just because they were scared of me or if they just didn’t want to know.”

For the first week after getting injured, Enneking said she wasn’t allowed to run, jump, or do anything that could create blood flow, because the doctors didn’t want the swelling to worsen.

During that period, the goalkeeper spent practice shagging balls, keeping score, and doing whatever she could to help the team.

Enneking said the time off was frustrating, not only because she wanted to be on the field, but because she lacked control over how quickly her injuries would heal.

“It’s not like something I can strengthen or try and do rehab on,” Enneking said. “It’s just a waiting game.”

On top of not having control over the healing process, Enneking said the most frustrating part was that she felt completely fine.

“In my head I was like, ‘Why can’t I do this?’” Enneking said. “I’m completely fine. I’m technically not hurt when it comes to my body, it’s really just my face, my nose, and so on.”

By mid-September, Enneking was cleared to lift weights and participate in drills that focused on footwork and distribution, but nothing that could potentially cause her to reinjure her face. 

She was allowed to do light workouts two weeks later to improve her shot-stopping skills, saving predictable shots and volleys.

Enneking said her coaches and teammates played a huge role in her recovery, helping her stay physically strong while she couldn’t fully participate.

While Enneking was out, the Hawkeyes made changes to their tactics that the goalkeeper had to adjust to. 

Instead of playing with four at the back with two center backs, Iowa now plays with three at the back, putting more emphasis on attack.

Enneking said because of the new tactics, she’ll likely be in a more distributive role, having to use her feet more, and act as a sweeper keeper. 

“It definitely is different but I think we’re benefiting from it,” Enneking said.