Price takes on greater defensive role as injury sidelines Strahota

Price has stepped in as the team’s center back.

by Betsy Helfand

By all accounts, senior defender and captain Tamara Strahota is a vocal leader on the soccer team.

So when Strahota injured her left leg in late September, the Gophers had to find a way to replace her voice.

Enter Marissa Price.

In the two games since Strahota injured her lower leg, Price, also a senior defender, has shifted into Strahota’s center back role and has had to become a more vocal leader in her own right.

“[Strahota’s] just so vocal that other people don’t have to do as much. With her out, there’s a lot of shared responsibility,” head coach Stefanie Golan said.

Golan said that Price is a different kind of vocal. Golan praised both Strahota’s “hard-nosed” communication style and Price’s “smiley” style.

Strahota redshirted last season with an ACL injury, and Price had a chance to play center back for part of the year last year.

So while the position isn’t entirely unfamiliar to Price, she said she has been working on communication since last year.

“It’s one of my weaknesses, but I hopefully have gotten a lot better since last year,” Price said. “Each game that’s my main focus — to constantly communicate.”

Though Price said communication was a weakness, MacKenzie Misel, the team’s other center back, said that Price has been doing a good job with it.

“She’s taking on a role of communicating more to the entire team, which is a big deal,” Misel said. “I didn’t have to say a lot of stuff because of Tam [Strahota]. Now that Tam’s gone, Marissa’s stepped in and done a lot of the talking.”

Good communication is especially important for the center back position, which requires the player to be more directive, Golan said.

Golan said that instead of just saying, “step,” a center back would say, “Hey Olivia [Bagnall], step left and check your left shoulder.”

Price has the added responsibility of directing and organizing players around her, but Golan said she has stepped into the role seamlessly.

Misel said that Price is always in the right spot and she has done a great job filling in for Strahota.

Last Sunday, the Gophers and Iowa battled to a 0-0 double overtime tie.

Price, in her new role, came up with two of the biggest plays of the game in the second overtime period.

“I was like, ‘I am not losing to Iowa. There’s no way they’re scoring,’” Price said.

As one of the fastest players on the team, Price used her speed to prevent two oncoming attacks.

“For her to not only track back but to track back and win the ball and have it on her foot to have it go in the other direction is absolutely huge,” Golan said. “There’s not a lot of players who do that and do that as well as what she does.”

Golan said the team is hoping to get Strahota back this weekend for the team’s two games against Illinois and Northwestern, pending functional testing results from this week.

Golan said when Strahota returns, her position will change — not Price’s.

That decision, she said, is a combination of how Price had played at center back and the limitations she expects Strahota will have.