The ball kissed the back of the net, and Amanda Filippone – an athlete with epilepsy who watched and agonized as her team skidded to a 1-11-1 record after a seizure last season forced her to the sidelines – was once again her old self: Amanda Filippone, attacking midfielder, team captain, goal scorer.
Filippone, who attends New Jersey City University, missed all but four games last season; she opted for a medical redshirt after suffering a severe grand mal seizure before a September match. She left the field in an ambulance that day.
One year later, she returned to the pitch – on her feet. On Aug. 30, only a minute into her first game back, Filippone fielded a pass eight yards from goal and rifled a shot past the keeper for John Jay College.
Fifty-four minutes later, she blasted a free-kick that was inadvertently tapped into the net by a pair of John Jay defenders. Seconds after that, her penalty kick goal sealed the Gothic Knights’ eventual 3-0 victory, instantaneously putting a year of hospital stays, doctor visits and a frightening ambulance ride behind her.
“The first game of the season changed me,” she said.
Away from the field, Filippone, a redshirt junior, is working toward a degree in psychology because, she said, she has come to relish counseling others who have epilepsy.
As for her future in soccer? She said she understands that, at any moment, a doctor could tell her there are no more free kicks to take, that no more nets will billow at her command. So forgive her when she offers a cliché – it’s sincere.
“I play every game like it’s my last.”
Apparently, even the first.