Saturday, December 3, 2022

Seniors stay close to teammates through injury

November 3, 2009

Sinacola

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series this week highlighting the women’s soccer seniors.

Devastated.

MSU women’s soccer head coach Tom Saxton has used the word twice this year when describing his thoughts on losing senior midfielders Kate Rehor and Lauren Sinacola to career-ending anterior cruciate ligament tears.

Rehor — who Saxton called “the ultimate professional” — tore her ACL Sept. 3 during the Spartans’ 1-1 tie against California-Santa Barbara.

The reality that her MSU career was done hit Rehor hard. Then, Sinacola — one of the best players in MSU history — tore her ACL Sept. 27 at the end of MSU’s 3-2 win against Penn State.

With Sinacola also down, Rehor knew she had to pick up a teammate and close friend.

“At first, it was really hard for me. Just knowing it was all over, I think I was kind of in shock,” Rehor said. “But I had to get over it kind of quick because my roommate (Sinacola), one of my best friends, tore hers. I’d already been through it once, so I already knew what it was like, and I kind of needed to be there for her.”

Now, a couple of months after their injuries — and days before the MSU seniors play their final regular season game at DeMartin Stadium at Old College Field — it would be wrong to say Rehor and Sinacola are at peace with their careers being finished.

Before the Wisconsin game Oct. 23, Rehor said all she wanted was to take the field and warm up with the Spartans. Sinacola said it’s hard to handle that in one of the last years she’ll be able to play soccer, she can’t.

But there have been some positives. Sinacola said because of family, friends, teammates and Rehor, the injury has been “a lot easier than I thought it’d be.”

Rehor said because she’s torn her ACL twice — the other injury came late in her freshman season — she is able to relate to teammates who also are out for the season, such as Sinacola, freshman midfielder Jordan Mueller (ACL) and sophomore forward Laura Heyboer (broken left tibia).

Rehor and Sinacola still attend every practice and travel to every game with the team. Sinacola, whose nickname is “Smurf,” has been dubbed “coach Smurf,” by the rest of the coaching staff, and is appreciative of midfielders junior Cara Freeman and sophomore Hannah Peterson seeking the senior’s advice.

“That’s why we take them on the road, because of the support they provide us, the experience, the leadership — they’ve been awesome,” Saxton said of Rehor and Sinacola. “They’ve had their ups and downs because they’ve had their own personal sadness because of what’s happened to them, but they’ve been total team players.”

Although Rehor and Sinacola have spent the majority of their final season at MSU as leaders from afar, they previously were in the middle of the action.

Saxton said Rehor was a “huge recruit” for MSU coming out of Lyons Township High School in La Grange, Ill. As a freshman, she started 12 straight matches before tearing her ACL, then split time as a starter and a reserve the next two seasons before being expected to be one of the first midfielders off the bench this year. In all, she played in 55 matches for MSU.

Sinacola’s 21 career assists rank tied for third all-time and are only two behind Erin Konheim’s school-record of 23, a record she almost certainly would have broken if not for the injury.

Saxton emphasized that Sinacola will go down as one of the greatest players in MSU history, something Sinacola said meant a lot to her.

“To know that all your hard work actually paid off, and to be told by your coach that you were one of the best players in history, it just really touches your heart,” Sinacola said.

Although Rehor and Sinacola won’t finish up their careers on the field with the rest of their senior class (including forward Lauren Hill, midfielder Megan Brown and goalkeeper Danielle Petri), the group has grown a bond as both people and players throughout the past few years.

Especially Rehor and Sinacola, and not just because of their injuries.

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“Kate has been one of my best friends since I’ve gotten to college, and her and I will be friends throughout the rest of our lives,” Sinacola said. “She wrote me a card (after my injury) telling me that she was there to support me and telling me she knew the feelings I was going to go through, and just really preparing me. The rest of the team did too, and it meant a lot and I’ll always appreciate her support and everyone else’s support.”

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