By Cary Shuman
Mia Nikolakopolous made a triumphant return to the St. Mary’s High School girls soccer team in the Lynn City Soccer Tournament.
Nikolakopolous, a senior captain, received the tournament’s Most Valuable Player Award, leading the Spartans to victories over Lynn English (3-0) and Lynn Classical (2-1).
The highly skilled, 17-year-old midfielder missed her entire junior season after suffering a torn ACL injury. She underwent surgery on Aug. 12, 2016 to repair her knee. She began running workouts three months after surgery and was cleared to play in March, 2017, competing in a club soccer season into June. She continued training and weightlifting in the summer before taking the field for St. Mary’s preseason practices.
Nikolakopoulos said she was excited to return to the team and help it win the city’s annual soccer tournament.
“It’s awesome. I’m really excited. Aside from my MVP, I’m just so happy we won and we really deserved it. To be a senior captain coming back from an ACL injury, it’s the coolest thing ever to win this tournament again.”
Nikolakopolous excelled in her midfielder’s role, controlling the ball and aiding the defenders and goalie Alex Iacoviello.
“I think my fellow midfielder, Gabby Diaz-Martinez, and I really dominated the middle and set up a lot and generated a lot of offense,” said Nikolakopoulos. “Susannah Cornell also helped out a lot. And our goalie [Alex Iacoviello], to me, is really the MVP because she stepped up huge.”
St. Mary’s head coach Jim Foley was glad to see his talented team leader patrolling the middle of the field.
“It’s great to have Mia back and playing so well,” said Foley. “She’s a real team leader and worked hard after the injury to get herself ready to play.”
Nikolakopoulos feels she’s “100 percent” physically, “but there’s a little bit of the mental game that has to come back, like being confident and fearless, and sitting out was definitely a really hard thing to do because I wanted to be out there so badly.”
Her family, included her parents, Taso and Lisa, and her younger brother, George, were among the Spartans’ faithful at Manning Field. Taso has been busy in his campaign for a seat on the Lynn City Council but he was on hand for his daughter’s MVP performance.
What are Mia’s goals for the remainder of the 2017 season?
“I really want our team to win a state championship,” she said. “I think it’s possible but it’s going to take hard work and everyone giving 100 percent.”
Nikolakopoulos is looking at Bryant University in Rhode Island, Stonehill, Providence, and Sacred Heart for colleges.
“Bryant (Division 1) is definitely my No. 1 choice,” she declared.