Spring break halted girls’ soccer action this week, bringing a period of rest for a number of teams struggling with injuries. No. 2 Battlefield has been without three starters during its 5-0 start. Bri Toelle, an Iowa recruit, has missed four games with a thigh injury while Sydney Bruns and Sydney Sisk are still recovering from concussions. What’s more, Lauren Ciconne sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her knee during club play, ending her season before it even started.
Top-ranked Stone Bridge, which was already without senior defender Corinne Giroux (hip), saw defender Megan Della Penna injure her knee in last week’s win against Robinson. Meantime, Northern Region runner-up W.T. Woodson has been without starting midfielders Kaitlyn McCurdy and Stephanie Wilson during a 0-2 start.
So what’s to make of this early rash of injuries? Well, it depends who you ask. But some say an underlying factor is the often-grueling schedule created by the overlapping club and high school seasons.
When Warren Williams first started coaching soccer within the area 12 years ago, the Woodson coach remembers having players who competed in two or three sports throughout the school year. Now, with the increased importance of club soccer when it comes to recruiting, Williams sees more girls specializing in one sport.
“When you play other sports, you cross-train, and I think a lot of these injuries are repetition injuries from playing the same sport,” Williams said. “Don’t get me wrong; it’s great that they are playing soccer year round and getting more touches, but it’s a double-edged sword in that some of the younger girls don’t realize at first that they can’t always go 150 miles per hour.”
Robinson senior forward Savannah Miller learned this lesson the hard way early in her high school career. During her freshman and sophomore year at Smithfield (Va.), Miller juggled track along with high school and club soccer, making for long days.
“As a freshman and sophomore, it’s new to you and it can get chaotic to where I remember not getting home until 10:30 on some nights and that can take a toll on you mentally,” said Miller, who now plays club for VSA Heat. “I’ve gotten used to it now, and this year my club team only has practice once a week. It can still have an effect but you have to know when to stop.”
Miller reached that point before last Wednesday’s contest against Stone Bridge. As she prepared to play her seventh game in 10 days of club and high school competition, Miller admitted to Robinson Coach Jim Rike that her legs were beginning to feel “dead.”
“He told me that was fine and said he would get us some rest that week,” Miller said. “It varies from girl to girl and coach to coach but most coaches know and it helps to communicate how you’re feeling if your body is acting up. But it’s tough sometimes because club is how you get colleges to look at you.”
With the Jefferson Cup, a showcase event in Richmond, taking place earlier this month, the club season will simmer down until Memorial Day weekend, just as teams are rounding into shape for their playoff push.
Of course, some injuries can be happenstance, such as the concussions sustained by two of Battlefield’s players. But with the wear and tear expected in a physical sport such as soccer, coaches and players are mindful of ways to remain fresh.
“It can be tough in the early part of the year with the grind of tryouts and the club and high school schedules” Battlefield Coach Kevin Hilton said. “We dialed it back some last week because the players were getting worn down, so you try to be wise and hope it helps keep everyone as healthy as possible.”
Six Division I recruits, led by reigning All-Met Player of the Year Murielle Tiernan and record-setting scorer Ashley Herndon, are featured on top-ranked Stone Bridge, the defending Virginia AAA Northern Region champion. . . . Battlefield, last year’s Virginia AAA Northwest Region champ, is off to a 5-0 start despite having three starters sidelined by injuries. . . . Defending AA state champ Woodgrove suffered its first loss in 27 games with a 2-1 defeat at the hands of a young but talented Briar Woods squad. . . . Last year marked the first time since 1983 that a Northern Region team did not play for the Virginia AAA state final.
1. Stone Bridge (2-0)
2. Battlefield (5-0)
3. Forest Park (2-1)
4. Robinson (2-1-1)
5. Centreville (3-0)
6. Lake Braddock (1-1)
7. Chantilly (2-1)
8. Briar Woods (3-0)
9. Woodgrove (4-1)
10. Yorktown (2-1)
On the bubble: Westfield (4-0), Patriot (3-0)