By: Teru Ikeda
SCARBOROUGH, ONT.- Kevin Segamanasinghe was desperate for the home opener against rival school Seneca Sting to start.
Segamanasinghe hadn't laced his cleats up for Centennial since October 19th, 2016, having been sidelined by tears to his ACL and meniscus. It was also his first time ever playing on the brand new artificial turf for the Green and White.
The season opener ended in a 0-0 tie. The Colts failed to capitalize on some golden scoring opportunities, having had six shots on goal compared to the Sting's three. Spearheaded by Ostap Hamarnyk, the defence limited the Sting's scoring opportunities by keeping their defensive formation intact throughout the game.
Segamansinghe enjoyed returning to the pitch. "I think I played, at least, a six out of 10," he laughed about his own diminished level of fitness. "I'm not the fittest guy on the team, but I think I did my part."
Segamanasinghe's biggest challenge will be getting back into OCAA soccer shape. During his recovery, he trained with Wexford Soccer Club and credits Centennial's athletic therapists – Tina Szeto, Jason Li, Whitney Gallant, Kaylin Fraser, and Samin Efekhar-Nejad – for informing him about the rehab exercises needed to accelerate his recovery.
The fear of reinjury and past trauma, however, lurks in every play he makes. He admits being apprehensive getting into certain tackles, but intense games like the dogfight against Seneca subsided his initial fears. Though the long road to recovery can be enervating, Segamanasinghe remains patient.
"It comes slowly and slowly. It doesn't come in one shot," he says of his personal expectations for the upcoming season. "Mentally, it gets to you sometimes, but it makes you work harder and harder and harder… it pushes me to get fitter."
Julian Carr, the Colts head coach, believes that Segamanasinghe will only get stronger with every game he plays.
"We were teasing him when he first came in… that he was out of shape," said Carr, smiling, welcoming back his defenceman's steady presence. "He's still out of shape…by the standards that I know he can play at."
It didn't take long for Segamanasinghe to reach a major milestone this season. On September 21st, the veteran defender headed the ball beautifully into the top left corner against the Algonquin Thunder, for his first career outdoor goal.
For this season, both Carr and Segamanasinghe have the same goal in mind: getting to provincials.