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Duval showed resilience and determination in overcoming ACL injury

Author: Scott Briggs

Posted on Oct 20, 2022

Category: Varsity Sports , Soccer , ACAA

Karlee Duval was understandably emotional after her final home game as a member of the UNB Saint John women’s soccer team on Oct. 15.

In the minutes following the Seawolves’ 2-1 win over Crandall University, Duval received huge hugs and warm embraces from family and friends on senior recognition day.


“It’s been an interesting five years, to say the least,” the veteran co-captain said. “They’ve been a huge factor in me being able to come back and play at the level I’m playing now. I’m very thankful to have people around me who support me.”

After graduating from Ecole Samuel-de-Champlain, Duval charged out of the gates in her first year with the Seawolves, winning ACAA rookie-of-the-year honors. She got off to another strong start as a sophomore before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee.

“It wasn’t a hard tackle,” Duval recalled. “I just got a little push on the back, but when I planted my foot, my knee hyperextended, and I knew right away. I’ve never been one to stay down. I like to get right back up and into the game. But when I went down, I heard a pop, and I knew that was it for me.”

Duval said her road to recovery was often bumpy, admitting the mental side was as challenging as the physical. She credits her parents, Stephane, and Dena, for helping her through the tough times.

“It took me a while to come out of a slump after I tore my ACL,” Duval said. “I’ve definitely learned resilience, determination, and motivation through it all. It took me a couple of months after I had my surgery to get back on my feet. Since then, it’s just been about pushing forward and powering forward in everything that I do, not just in soccer.”

That drive allowed Duval to reinvent herself as a player, going from speedy striker to savvy winger. It also led to her being named co-captain with Jillian Smith.

“That (injury) motivated her to be better,” Seawolves head coach PJ Ward said. “She knew she wasn’t going to be the same player as before.”

While Duval committed herself to a comeback, teammates took notice.


“She’s a huge inspiration for me,” said Smith, the team’s senior goalkeeper. “I’ve always looked up to her.”

Duval’s efforts helped the Seawolves earn a berth in this year’s conference semifinal on Oct. 29 in Fredericton. UNB Saint John enters the final weekend of the regular season in second place with a 7-1-2 record.

“We have the best bond of any team I’ve ever played on,” Duval said. “There’s no other team I’d rather be finishing my final year with, especially going to the playoffs.”

If the Seawolves win the ACAA title, they’ll pack their bags for Quebec’s Champlain College Saint-Lambert, the site of this year’s CCAA Women’s National Championship. If they fall short, Duval will focus on finishing her Bachelor of Health Sciences degree.

And no matter how the Seawolves fare, she’ll have no regrets.


“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Duval said. “I wouldn’t even take my injury back, even if I could, because it’s led me to where I am today and playing with this team. This is the only way I’d want to go out. No matter what your specific journey is, you have to wear the logo proudly and be a team player. I’ve gone through a lot in this program, and I’ll be sad when it comes to an end.”

- Scott Briggs, freelance sports journalist for the UNB Saint John Seawolves.