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Wojcik's Return Brings Energy Boost for OKC

By CHRIS HOCKMAN -, 11/02/17, 12:14PM EDT


Two playoff goals have shown striker back to his best after mid-season injury

Photo courtesy Steven Christy / OKC Energy FC

OKLAHOMA CITY – In just one moment on June 6 at Taft Stadium, OKC Energy FC forward Wojciech Wojcik went from a dizzying high to the deepest low.

After scoring two goals against Phoenix Rising FC in the USL Game of the Week on ESPN3, his first two tallies of the season, Wojcik found himself on the ground after landing awkwardly, seemingly in trouble.

Heavily bandaged, the Polish striker went through the post-game ritual of visiting the Energy FC supporters section that had cheered the side on to a 3-2 victory, his arm heavily bandaged. Soon after the news of the fractured elbow arrived, a massive blow to both Wojcik and Energy FC's season.

“I was a little bit upset, just because we were starting to find our rhythm, especially me, I was coming off those matches against Portland and the Switchbacks, so to come back home, and score two goals and then go off with an injury like that was frustrating,” said Wojcik.

Requiring surgery, it was a difficult road back for the 25-year-old, who had never suffered such a serious injury previously in his career. Taking two-and-a-half months out of what was a promising season could well have knocked Wojcik well off track but he went on the difficult track and came back strongly.

“For me it was just about getting my mind right,” he said. “It was the first injury for me, my first serious injury so it was just about staying focused and getting my mind right. The only thing that was really going on was that I couldn’t move my hand, the rest of my body was okay, so I was running and taking touches.”

As tough as the injury was, the fact that it was on Wojcik's elbow at least aided his recovery. Wojcik was able to stay sharp and fit, being careful all the while, but making sure his feel for the ball wasn't lost.

“I was able to do what I needed to do to stay sharp, so every day when the team was training in practice and I wasn’t cleared I was doing some runs, or running stairs, or juggling the ball, anything to make sure I was ready to come back,” Wojcik said. “It took a little longer than expected but I made it back a little quicker than I thought I would come back, and even the doctor said, but the most important part is that I’m healthy and that my mind is right and I’m back to helping the team.”

Such a long recovery made things mentally tough on a return, as it would for any player, there was a nervousness for Wojcik coming back into competitive action for Energy FC when he saw his first minutes against San Antonio FC on August 19.

“Any time anyone goes through something like that you don’t want to risk anything when you start playing again," said Wojcik. "I was not necessarily shying out of tackles but you go through that period of time where you’re just waiting for that big hit, to hit the spot where it was hurt, and once I got that out of the way it was just back to normal.”

Since returning, Wojcik has found even stronger form than before his injury. Goals in back-to-back outings have helped Energy FC reach this Saturday's Western Conference Final in the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs, and made Wojcik one of only a handful players to score multiple goals this postseason.

“He’s been a very important player for us since he came here," said Energy FC Head Coach Jimmy Nielsen. "He had a lot of strength and he’s been technically good, he’s a big physical guy and a threat in the box, he’s very good in our build up and he has been very, very important for us and it’s good to have him back in form. The way he battled through those 120 minutes [against San Antonio] was exceptional.”

For his part, Wojcik refuses to accept much of the credit for the performances in the playoffs so far, instead passing it to his partners.

“It’s not just me, I’m just fortunate enough to be in the right spots at the right times to make the play but that goes on for the other 10 guys on the field and the seven guys on the bench so it can’t just be me," he said. "I give kudos to my teammates for being able to fight every day and to win.”

With Wojcik adding his contribution to the club's undefeated streak ahead of Saturday's clash with the Swope Park Rangers at Children's Mercy Park, the goal of a first trip to the USL Cup might be within Energy FC's grasp.

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