Injuries Hit, Don’t Slow Women’s Soccer

A number of injuries to starters have piled up on the women’s soccer team, but they have failed to slow the team.

Injuries always have an effect on a team, whether they are small, nagging or major.

“It’s tough,” said head coach Gerry Lucey. “But it gives the other players opportunities to step in there, let the seniors and juniors step in there and become leaders.”

Nicole Murphy, a defensive leader for the team, went down with a knee injury against Nova Southeastern last weekend.

“I did get ‘taken out’ during our game,” said Murphy. “I heard a tearing/crunching sound in my knee and it hurt for a while but the trainer took a look at it and said nothing is seriously wrong so I went back in for the second half. My ankle also got hurt in that play but it’s probably just bruised. I practiced yesterday [Monday] and was a little sore but other than that I am basically okay.”

Kate Callahan, a senior midfielder, suffered a second degree sprain of her medial collateral ligament (MCL) on Sept. 16 against Ouachita Baptist (Ark.). She has missed seven games, but she practiced on Tuesday and, at press time, planned to play in the team’s match against Florida Southern.

Shelby Kuni suffered a broken nose against Lynn as she attempted a header in front of the goal. The goal keeper appeared to punch Kuni in the face as she leapt for the ball.

Kuni had surgery last Wednesday, Oct. 3 to put a metal plate and splints into her nose. The splints were supposed to be removed on Oct. 10, but the plate will remain forever. She is expected to miss 1-2 weeks, but also said she hoped to play against Florida Southern.

Alicia Wyman, a junior defender, has overcome multiple injuries. She was hospitalized last week with cranial pressure, and quarantined for a day as doctors feared she had a relapse of spinal meningitis. She was released on Tuesday afternoon after tests came back negative and is expected to make a full recovery.

“We have such a good group of girls, so it’s really easy for someone to step up for someone who’s been injured,” said Callahan.

The injuries have given others more game time than they had at the beginning of the season, including freshman Sara Belsole.

“I feel like each game I am getting more opportunities to play,” said Belsole. “I have been working really hard in practices and it is definitely starting to pay off. It is hard to have injuries sometimes, but I know that there are a lot of players who can step up and do well on the field when they are needed. I don’t care what the reason I am in the game for, I will give it my all. I just want the chance to play.”

As players return from injury, the coach has a difficult decision to make: does he leave in the successful replacements or go with the proven experienced players?

“They’re all solid players,” said Lucey. “What we try to emphasize is it’s a squad game and we cannot achieve our team goals without a solid squad. We want to try to play as many players every game. We want to maintain the tempo of the game so we control the flow of the game.”

Despite all of the injuries, the team is still in first place in the SSC and in the top five nationally. The Spartans are outscoring their opponents 29-5 on the year.

“I’m happy with the contribution of the players who have stepped in, even though we aren’t scoring as much as we did last year,” said Lucey.

Still, some players feel the team is struggling to recover from such a litany of injuries.

“We are kind of going through a difficult time right now as a team,” said Kuni. “We are having trouble [defensively] stopping teams from scoring goals on us, which we were very good at last year. We also lost two of the three starting forwards we had last year, so we are still having a little trouble scoring as many goals as we would like (and being very strong attackingly). A lot of people are playing in positions they’ve never played before, we are having to compensate for a lot of injuries, etc. We are just in a rut right now, but we will get out of it.”

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