No. 10 MSU women’s soccer head coach Tom Saxton said Tuesday’s practice was full of “devastated” players and coaches, as they dealt with the loss of senior midfielder Lauren Sinacola because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee, an injury that not only ended her season, but also her career.
“She was here (Tuesday) and she’s hurting both physical and mentally right now, but we kind of needed to kind of get everything out in the air,” Saxton said. “It was a tough day. She’s much loved, of course, by the players and the coaching staff.”
Sinacola’s torn ACL is the second such injury the Spartans have dealt with this year, along with fellow senior midfielder Kate Rehor, who tore her ACL earlier this season.
“It’s hard because she is such a big part of our team, she is such a great person and one of our leaders, so it hurts to have that injury and to see her go through that,” senior defender Megan Brown said of Sinacola. “… But she’s strong and we’re strong, and we’re just going to try to make the best of the situation. We’re expecting people to step up and work through it.”
Of course, as both Saxton and players know, there is no one player who can replace Sinacola — without question one of the best players in program history. Saxton said he plans on replacing her by committee, but already has a couple ideas.
The first is to move freshman forward Olivia Stander to an outside-mid position, similar to how the Spartans have been using junior forward Cara Freeman. Because of Stander’s solid play Sunday against Penn State, Saxon said he’s certain the move will help MSU’s offensive attack, but “whether she can defend in the midfield can be the question.”
He’s also looking at sophomore Mikki Dennis, sophomore Megan Pines and junior Kelsey Tait to play by committee, as well, noting all three have shown potential.
“They’ve all three had highs and lows, and one day they’ve been a good choice for us and then the other day they’ve been off,” Saxton said. “We need more consistency out of them so we can kind of get a rotation. I feel really good about (freshman Jordan) Mueller, Freeman and (sophomore Hannah) Peterson — they’re solid. It’s just what we do in that fourth spot.”
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