Limping and searching for answers
The UALR soccer team has stumbled with a 0-4 start to the season, with each game being a lopsided affair. Yet, that might be the least of the Trojan’s worries with conference play a mere two weeks away.
Injuries have overwhelmed the Trojans so far this season and appear to be coming in wave after wave.
On the offensive side of the ball, junior forwards Holly Holland and Adrianna Queen have both sustained injuries, forcing them to miss significant playing time. Last season, Queen led the Trojans with 36 shots, while Holland appeared in all 20 games and recorded two goals and one assist.
Defensively, senior Kamiya Merrick and sophomore Amanda Wilkinson are dealing with more severe injuries. Both players have suffered serious knee injuries in the past and this season has been no different.
Wilkinson saw her freshman campaign come to a halt after her injury ended her year eight games into the season.
This season, Wilkinson injured the same knee four minutes into the first home game at Coleman Sports & Recreation Complex.
Unfortunately, ligament injuries to the MCL and ACL are frequent in soccer. With constant starting and stopping and changing of direction, soccer players are more susceptible to these severe injuries.
The amount of injuries can be seen as a reason why the Trojans have struggled on the field this year, but sophomore defender Betsy Blackwood feels confident that the players on the field are capable of getting the job done.
“I definitely think that the large number of injuries this preseason has caused the slow start,” Blackwood said. “But I also feel that the small numbers of healthy players we do have is a great group, and a very hard working group.”
The Trojans have allowed 20 goals over a four game span and have been limited to only two goals offensively.
“The beginning of the season has definitely been very frustrating,” Blackwood said. “The first few games have exposed our weakness and have given us a good outline on what we need to work on going into conference play.”
With injuries occurring to so many returning players, incoming freshman and transfers have been forced to step in and play significant minutes on the field.
Freshman midfielder Ashley Asuncion has logged in the second most minutes of any player on the team with 346. Blackwood is next with 341.
Blackwood notes that the lack of depth on the bench has definitely had an impact on the young season.
With three games in a span of four days, this week should provide the Trojans with another challenge. Heavier minutes mean heavier legs, and for a team struggling to keep players on the field, this stretch will be a tough test for the Trojans.
The Trojans travel to Conway Wednesday Sept. 5 for a matchup against in-state rival University of Central Arkansas. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m.