June 10, 2014 at 10:23 pm

High school soccer: Return of Annika Johnson gives Birmingham Marian a lift

Annika Johnson, left, returned from injury to seek a state title. (Jared Purcell / Special to Detroit News)

Birmingham — When she tore the ACL in her left knee in November, Annika Johnson was looking ahead.

She was thinking her senior season playing soccer for Birmingham Marian was over.

“It was real hard because I had all these things planned out, all these goals our team had,” she said. “And to have that happen, it was frustrating.”

But seven months later, Johnson was back.

It wasn’t easy, by any means, but her goal of returning for the districts two weeks ago was met.

And so, Wednesday, she’ll be on the field in the Division 2 semifinals when Marian faces rival Livonia Ladywood.

“When you’re on the sideline watching, it can be pretty difficult,” Johnson said. “You feel good the team is winning, but at the same time you want to be part of it.”

But, at what cost.

That was a big issue for Johnson, who is headed to George Washington this fall.

Johnson, though, was cleared and slowly has regained her strength and conditioning. Almost.

“It’s almost all there,” Johnson said. “My soccer skills are getting there. That’s been a little slower. But I feel confident out there.”

Having Johnson return, though she may not be at 100 percent, also has been a unifying force for Marian.

“Maybe she’s not quite 100 percent but to see her out there, working hard, and giving it her all, that helps the rest of the team give a little more,” coach Barry Brodsky said.

And, a second state title — Marian won in 2012 and lost in the finals last season — as well as returning from a serious injury would be a perfect ending to a senior season, Johnson said.

“It would definitely be a positive memory,” she said.