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Hilltop grad Martinez playing herself back into the game John Phillip Wyllie | Wed, Jul 14 2010 02:23 AM

After a sterling soccer career at Hilltop High School (1998-2001) in which she garnered numerous all-league and All-San Diego Section honors, Lisette Martinez went on to play four seasons of collegiate soccer at SDSU. Along the way, however, she managed to tear up the same knee twice. The last injury to her left knee was particularly devastating in that it included tears in her ACL and meniscus and was compounded by other complications.

At 26, Martinez hasn't lost the thrill she gets from donning her kit and heading out to the soccer pitch. That enthusiasm was on display on a recent Saturday night when she continued her comeback following a long, injury-imposed layoff. Active all night on the left flank, Martinez scored the game's second goal in what turned out to be a decisive 6-0 win for San Diego United over a shorthanded PSSCV Rooks side. Martinez and her teammates then gained a 1-1 Father's Day draw against their cross-town rivals, the San Diego SeaLions, in another Women's Premier Soccer League match.

 "My knee is actually not too bad now," Martinez said with a broad smile. "I had to take a season or two off and I am trying to get back on the field. I think I am playing at about 75 percent. It is definitely not all there, so I have some work to do. Tonight's was my first goal of the season."

Martinez is enjoying the competition and camaraderie she gets as a member of the SD United squad.

 "Playing with United has been great," she said. "I was hoping to just step on and regain the feel for the game once again. Coach Elio Bello was really open to me training with the team. Then later he asked me to play in a game. I have been playing since then and starting on and off."

Taking nothing for granted, Martinez has modest goals when it comes to soccer.
"Those knee injuries set me back for a bit, so at this point I just want to work myself back on to the field and prove to myself that I can still do it," she said. "I just want to keep playing for as long as I can."  

Over the years, Martinez has remained active both as a player and a coach.
In 2003 she had a short stint playing for the Mexican U-19 national team. Then she worked as an assistant coach for her alma mater, Hilltop High, from 2005-07. Following that, Martinez coached the JV team at Granite Hills High.

Martinez earns her living teaching financial literacy courses to children and adults in low-income communities. 

San Diego United returns to USD's Torero Stadium on Saturday, July 17, for a 6:30 p.m. match against the Claremont Stars. For more information about San Diego United, visit the Web site at www.sdunited.net.

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