TRURO - It was the lowest of lows for Shanice Maxwell.
The 19-year-old Truro resident spent most of last summer recovering from a broken fibula and cracked tibia after colliding with an opposing goalkeeper during a match in May 2011. It was a devastating turn of events for someone who lives and breathes soccer and who was about to make her university debut with the Cape Breton Capers that fall.
But she didn't stay down for long.
Maxwell has made up for lost time this season, claiming the Golden Boot award earlier this week for leading the Nova Scotia Soccer League's Premier Women's Division in scoring with nine goals in 15 matches. Her strong campaign also earned her a spot on the division's all-star squad.
"They mean a lot," Maxwell said of the accolades. "After everything happened I thought I was at the bottom and everything came crashing down. But now I know I can be that player I used to be again."
She's hoping she can stay in fine form this weekend as she leads Suburban FC into playoffs today. The squad - fourth in the regular season with a 6-5-4 (W-L-T) record, just one point out of second - takes on third-place Halifax City (7-6-2) at 7 p.m. at the Halifax Common.
The winner moves on to Saturday's 1 p.m. semifinal against the loser of a match between first-place Halifax Dunbrack (12-3-0) and second seeded Valley United (6-4-5). The final is slated for Monday at 6:30 p.m.
Maxwell is joined on the squad by Brookfield resident Paula Serracin, North River's Danielle Lauther and Harmony's Emily Hunter. The team is coached by Truro's Mike Cavanagh and Rob Adams.
"We just have to stay focused," Maxwell said. "We just have to take it game by game, win that first game and go from there."
If the regular season is any indication, there won't be much separating the teams this weekend. Maxwell said it'll come down to which team is willing to do whatever necessary to win.
"All the teams are good," she said. "It just depends on who wants it more. We're hungry, so hopefully we're the team at the end."
Along with the awards she's already received, making a deep playoff run would only be the icing on the cake for Maxwell, who was just happy at the start of the season to be back on the pitch with her friends.
"I was just excited to play again," she said. "I'm just happy to be playing the way I used to play and I wasn't expecting the golden boot or anything like that. That's just a bonus."