Time was never really on Bailey Pombrio’s side.
The clock on the Fort Myers forward’s soccer career has been ticking the last four years. Each time she extended her leg on a corner kick or challenged for a 50/50 ball, her doctor speculated the stress fracture in her back suffered during her freshman season worsened and never healed properly.
Yet, Pombrio’s assault on Haley Emerson’s school goal-scoring record didn’t become a race against time until last month.
The question was never whether she’d run out of games, but it was whether her back would hold up long enough to deposit No. 133 in the back of the net?
Over the holiday break, X-rays revealed a complete fracture of Pombrio’s L5 vertebrae. Sitting one goal away from the milestone, her choice to keep the news a secret from Green Wave coaches and chase the record was an easy one.
“It was never something that I thought I had a chance at,” Pombrio said. “But once I knew I had a chance at, I wanted it.”
Pombrio played alongside Emerson during the 2011-12 season when the current LSU midfielder and former News-Press Player of the Year scored 54 goals, a few of which Pombrio assisted, her senior year to pass Jennifer Stahl on the list.
She praised Emerson’s dedication, knowing she needed that and more to challenge the mark with an ailing back.
Over her varsity tenure, Pombrio became one of the area’s most dynamic players, a complete scorer capable of finding the net in every way Fort Myers coach David Trepkowski could imagine.
“You just can’t knock her off the ball,” Trepkowski said. “She’s determined to put her team in the best position to win a district title. That’s what she cares about.”
At the same time, it isn’t lost on Pombrio that her teammates put her in position to reach the record books.
“It was a through ball here, a cross there, my teammates putting me in the right position,” Pombrio said. “I couldn’t have done this without them and without coach (Trepkowski), who’s been such an inspiration to me.”
The feeling is mutual.
There wasn’t a time where it was more evident than a Dec. 18 15-0 win over East Lee County. Having netted six goals in the rout, Trepkowski tried to make a substitution for Pombrio one goal short of tying the record, but her teammates pushed her back onto the field for one more goal.
Back pains and eventually her X-ray results dampened her celebration. She chose not to tell Trepkowski about the injury that would end her season, which includes the District 4A-12 tournament starting today, until after Senior Night last Wednesday against Ida Baker.
The record-breaking goal came a day earlier on a through ball which set up a 1-on-1 opportunity where she beat Mariner’s goalkeeper to the corner of the net.
“It was just a great feeling,” Pombrio said. “All the work was worth it.”
At the same time, she realizes No. 133 will be the last goal she scores wearing green and white. If Fort Myers (17-1-4) is to win its first district crown in 14 years, it will have to do it without Pombrio.
“It’s definitely going to be hard, but at the same time the feeling is going to be the same when we win the district championship as if I had played,” Pombrio said.
Her injury leaves her future in soccer beyond Fort Myers is up in the air. For the time being, Pombrio remains committed to Florida Atlantic University.
If her time playing soccer is up, she admits it was well spent.