It’s been a slow start to the 2012 season for the Elon women’s soccer team. After battling to a draw on opening night against the University of Cincinnati, the Phoenix have been victorious just once by tallying a win with a 4-0 defeat of Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va. on Aug. 24. In five games total, Elon has notched five goals while allowing 15. Granted, the Phoenix has matched up against teams like North Carolina State University and sixth-ranked Duke University, but it’s still an average of three goals allowed per game, which will not bode well at any level of soccer.
The common consensus throughout the team is they need to get healthy. Elon has had a serious case of the injury bug early on this season. Preseason all-conference sophomore goalkeeper Kate Murphy missed the first two games with a hand injury and senior backup goalkeeper Shannon Cosgrove underwent knee surgery in July that kept her from being available for the first few games. The absence of the two goalkeepers forced junior forward Catherine Brinkman to take over in goal, but she too was held off the field for the NC State game on Sept. 2 with fitness issues.
Freshman forward Nicole Dennion and freshman defender Mel Insleyhave yet to see the field because of fitness issues coming off of summer illnesses while freshman defender Katie Boyle and junior defender Jennifer McGorty have missed time because of lower body injuries. To top it off, sophomore defender Bethany Houpt suffered a torn ACL in July which will keep her sidelined for the season.
“Getting bodies back will help us,” head coach Chris Neal said following the game Sept. 2 against NC State. “We need to get Nicole Dennion back on the field. We need to get Mel Insley back on the field. We need to get Jen McGorty back on the field. We need to get Katie Boyle back on the field. Those are impact players for us that just haven’t seen the field yet.”
Phoenix senior captain Jaclyn Wood feels the same as Neal, as the number of available players has dwindled to this point this season.
“Right now, we need everyone healthy to stay healthy,” midfielder Jaclyn Wood said following the game at NC State on Sept. 2. “That’s big for us because we’re really low on numbers.”
Another issue for the Phoenix that goes along with the injury problems is the mix of players on the field at any given time.
“We’ve had too many players having to step on the field playing too many different positions right now,” Neal said.
For Wood, it’s about finding players that will mesh well together on the field while still performing at a high level.
“We’re trying to find that set of players that click,” Wood said. “We do have some freshmen starting out there and some people in positions they haven’t played before.”
Elon has a just less than two weeks until the conference opener against Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C. Right now, the focus is on getting healthy and developing more team chemistry on the field for conference play.
“We’ve had setbacks with key players being injured but that’s not an excuse,” Murphy said. “We just have to get together and come together as a team and have everyone take responsibility for their role on the field and contribute what our team’s expecting from each individual player.
Wood spoke about taking advantage of non-conference play.
“This part of the season is great,” Wood said. ‘It’s time for our team to find where everyone should play and who should play and build some relationships on the field before conference starts.”