Rudy fills injury void in lineup

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

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The injury sustained by junior defender Tina Rodriguez has put the Massachusetts women’s soccer team in an unfamiliar position. The dependable Rodriguez had started in all but one game in her career at UMass before she was hurt. Her experience and steady performance has been missed in the two games played without her.

Despite Rodriguez no longer being able to play on the field this season, senior co-captain Nadia Villarroel sees her fallen teammate still contributing to the team as an “unofficial” coach.

“I’m trying to help out,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t have a great coach’s eye just yet, but any way I can give my input and help the team will be good. I need to contribute to the team or otherwise I’ll go crazy.”

UMass coach Jim Rudy has been forced to shuffle his lineup around in order to fill the void left by Rodriguez. In doing this, he has a few players in unfamiliar positions. The Minutewomen are proving their versatility with Villarroel, Vanessa Patry, Christina Nunes, and Elizabeth Weinsten all playing in different spots than they are accustomed to.

Patry and Villarroel are now asked to help a bit more in the defensive backfield for the team, causing a different scheme to form offensively. To balance the attack for the Minutewomen, Rudy has summoned freshman forward Sydney Stoll into the starting lineup to provide a spark and a consistent offensive attack to go along with leading scorer Britt Canfield.

The injury to Rodriguez has allowed the quick and dynamic Stoll to display her talents on a more regular basis. Previously she was relegated to coming off the bench, but now she’s able to play longer in each game, which has provided a lift on offense.

In Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Xavier, Stoll was all over the field, creating a plethora of scoring opportunities. The goal scored by Canfield to win the game was assisted by senior co-captain Stephanie Barrett, but it was Sydney Stoll who got things started on a great pass to Barrett.

“She’s dynamic,” Rudy said about Stoll. “It’s a good start for her. I thought she was exciting and hard to handle.”

“Sydney did awesome,” added redshirt junior goalkeeper Kristin Walker. “She came out with high pressure and took it to the extreme. She basically made her defenders look foolish. She’s a great player.”

In addition to Stoll, other freshmen have been able to capitalize on increased playing time. Forward Christina Adams and midfielders Katie Ruggles and Meghan Gould have made solid contributions off the bench for the Minutewomen.

“Ruggles is a speedy player,” Rudy said. “She will run the left flank as a defender or attacker. She has a high work rate. Adams has an attacking personality with flair and grit. She seems to attract the ball around the penalty area. Gould has superb passing skills. She’s good in the air around the goal and sees the field well.”

One thing that remains the same for the Minutewomen is the solid play from Walker. Last season she was voted to the All-Conference First Team and this year is much of the same. In 12 games so far, she has recorded four shutouts and has only allowed 13 goals. She has made 57 saves and has a save percentage of .814. Her most recent effort may have been her best as she shut out Xavier with 10 clutch saves.

“Every time she [Walker] makes a big save it inspires me,” Villarroel said. “I fight harder and try and get the ball out of our defensive end. She has been terrific all season for us.”