Injuries to freshman too hard to overcome for NAU soccer
By Stefanie Dziawura
The incoming freshmen, particularly the forwards, were expected to play a major role on the Northern Arizona University (NAU) women’s soccer team after losing 12 seniors from the 2011-12 team. Unfortunately for head coach Andre Luciano and the rest of the Lumberjacks, their team had to endure several injuries upfront.
“One thing that really stinks for us this year is that we recruited five freshmen forwards to be big-time, impact players for us, and four of them have season-ending injuries,” Luciano said. “We are struggling with that right now, and at some point in time we hope it just kind of clicks.”
It did not click for the last of the non-injured freshmen forwards during this past week’s game against Eastern Washington University. Demi Schmieder joined the club of injured freshmen forwards after she sprained her ankle, which resulted in being unable to play in the Montana game two days later.
“It was pretty much a big blow to us to lose Demi on Friday,” Luciano said. ”Yet another forward, another injury.”
The loss of another forward took a hit at the squad offensively, but the players did not let it touch their team morale.
“We’ve stayed pretty strong and positive. We keep coming out and nobody’s given up,” Schmieder said. “It has given a lot of people a chance to step up, come off the bench and get good experience.”
The team adjusted to the multitude of freshmen forward injuries by placing players outside of their normal positions on the field in order to help fill the gaps. All the position and lineup changes presented opportunities for players to step up and to improve as a team on how efficiently they work together.
Junior forward Elinor Priest knows how tough the sport is but, more importantly, knows how tough the freshmen forwards are.
“Soccer is really physical, and when you have girls running into each other at full force, people get hurt,” Priest said. “But they are coming back strong, and they are out here everyday working, doing rehab and getting better.”
The freshmen are valuable players but their health is even more valuable. The team believes that once the freshmen forwards are fully recovered, they will get to show just show valuable to the team they are.
“It’s been hard, but it will be nice to get rested and get everybody back next year,” Schmieder said.
The Lumberjacks’ time to rest, regroup and recover from all injuries during off-season will start after their last regularly scheduled game of the season against California State University-Bakersfield on Friday.