HUDSON — He missed his entire junior season due to a devastating knee injury.
On a gorgeous Saturday evening, though, Skanda Moorthy finally had his chance to do something he loves more than just about anything else.
He got to play “The Beautiful Game” known as soccer.
The senior midfielder/forward took his spot under the lights for the first time in nearly a year and a half.
Let’s just say it felt like he never left.
Thanks to Moorthy’s two goals, the Hudson boys soccer team made a sensational 2019 debut with a convincing 4-0 victory over Canton GlenOak at Hudson Memorial Stadium.
Moorthy, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament during a club game approximately 15 months ago, has relished the opportunity to get back on the pitch ever since he took his awkward fall.
As he made his way to the field in front of his favorite well-wishers, Moorthy couldn’t hide his childlike enthusiasm.
This was his moment to soak it all in. And he had no plans of taking it for granted after a much-too-long hiatus away from his dearest playground.
“I’m so happy,” he said. “The people at UH [University Hospital] did a great job. It’s a great feeling being out there with my teammates, playing The Beautiful Game.
“Of course, the win is always great. I just love being part of the Hudson program, with the coaching staff and all the players.”
Moorthy remembers exactly what happened when his knee shattered violently due to an unfortunate wrong turn. Let’s just say he doesn’t particularly like reminiscing about it.
“It happened during a club game for Everest [Soccer Club in Ravenna] around May 2018,” Moorthy said. “It was just a bad feeling. I pivoted wrong on a ball near the sideline. My femur went this way [left] and my tibia went that way [right] and a ligament snapped.”
Moorthy got antsy as game night approached. The thought of representing his high school colors gave him a fair share of goosebumps.
“I was a little tentative,” Moorthy said. “I was thinking about it during class on Friday and Thursday. We were confident. We have a great team, great captains, great leadership, great coaches. I knew we were going to get the win.”
It took Moorthy practically forever to get back on the field. Once he got there, it took a mere six minutes for the precocious teenager to make a significant impact.
Moorthy gave his team a 1-0 lead when he blasted a shot into the net from the left side. Sean Durkin was credited with the assist.
Moorthy added his second goal on a ball that was deflected right at his feet after an initial shot was knocked away by Golden Eagles’ goalkeeper Ryan Riccillo. Moorthy’s right-place-at-the-right-time instincts gave the Explorers a comfortable 3-0 lead a little more than seven minutes into the second half.
Despite his virtuoso performance, Moorthy was in no mood to bask in the spotlight. He felt much more comfortable acknowledging his fellow brothers in arms.
“Honestly, it’s a team effort,” Moorthy said. “I’m just there to finish the chances. I tried my best and I put it in the back of the net. And that’s what got us the win.”
Hudson head coach Steve Knapp, on the other hand, didn’t shy away from praising his skilled and keen playmaker. For Knapp, Moorthy plays the role of a much-needed teacher’s aide in his sometimes, chaotic classroom. In this case, though, no degree is necessary for a distinguished scholar who specializes in “The Beautiful Game.”
“Love having him back,” Knapp said. “He’s just the epitome of a soccer player. You could put him at any position and he would know exactly what we’re doing.
“Creating space for himself … he just knows how to do that. He knows how to shield and hold the ball; he knows how to be strong; he knows how to go at players.
“When it comes to game management, he knows when to slow things down. He knows when to get on the ball and dictate the pace of the game. He’s just a really smart player.”
Moorthy is forever grateful to be running around with his teammates again after what seemed like an infinite layoff.
He also won’t forget his new friends either. Like anyone else, Moorthy doesn’t like the thought of returning to a rather harrowing health center to fix his once-broken lower body.
Nevertheless, he couldn’t imagine experiencing as triumphant a return if not for the tireless professionals who painstakingly put his knee together.
That expert crew included his own flesh and blood.
“My mom worked for UH and I know a couple of [people on] staff there,” Moorthy said. “They’re all really professional people. It was great working with them. They worked with some NFL guys. I was really fortunate to work with them. I had a good recovery and rehab. There was no doubt.”
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.