Soccer endures injuries and keeps on kicking

Jabari Ritchie

Minnesota’s soccer team received welcome news earlier this week when senior midfielder Alison Rackley’s leg injury was found to be less severe than originally believed.

Rackley, one of Minnesota’s captains, was thought to have broken her leg as a result of a collision nearing the conclusion of last Friday’s 1-0 win over Xavier. Instead, Rackley has only a high ankle sprain but is still expected to miss several games.

“It could be as little as two weeks or as much as six, but we’re hoping for the best,” head coach Barbara Wickstrand said. “If we can get her back for the Big Ten (Sept. 14), we’ll be excited about that.”

Freshman Tierney Palmer-Klein has been filling in for Rackley at the center midfield position. Palmer-Klein had three shots in the Xavier game, then started Sunday against Cincinnati.

“She has been doing a great job so she’ll take over that role,” Wickstrand said. “We’ve got a lot of young players so we’re still playing with the formation and who’s going to be getting the start (at the third midfield position.)”

Sophomore Amy Khaleel and freshman Megan Turner started beside Palmer-Klein on Sunday. Freshman Jennifer Cressman also played.

“I think we’re all looking to step up and fill her spot until (Rackley) can come back,” Palmer-Klein said. “(Rackley) was a go-to player for us, but I think everybody’s kind of coming together and working for her.”

Minnesota also missed the usual contributions of junior Meghan Jones, who started 25 games in 2000 and 1999. Jones suffered from heatstroke last weekend and played limited minutes.

“We’re hoping to get Meghan Jones healthy because we really need her back in the lineup,” Wickstrand said. “Hopefully, by this weekend, she’ll get more playing time.”

Beside Rackley and Jones, Minnesota should have only one other injury going into Saturday’s game against No. 13 Brigham Young.

Sophomore defender Katherine Arndt, who played in 17 games last season, is still out with a sprain suffered over the summer. Wickstrand said Arndt might be ready to play in three weeks.

Senior goalkeeper Julie Eibensteiner has found a bright side to the Gophers mounting injury problems.

“In the Xavier game we had Rackley out and we had to throw some people in there who didn’t have a whole lot of experience,” she said. “I’m glad they got the chance to play now so hopefully at the end of the season they’ll be the most solid people on the team.”

So far, Wickstrand said, the newcomers have performed well.

“We’re throwing a lot at them early and it was unexpected to have to do that,” she said. “But they’re stepping up to the plate and it’s really fun to see.”

 

Jabari Ritchie covers soccer and welcomes comments at [email protected]