The BYU women’s soccer team has stepped up to fill the shoes of injured teammate and leading forward Ashley Hatch after a serious knee injury.
Hatch was ranked as the best player in the WCC by TopDrawerSoccer.com at the start of this season and has led the Cougars’ offense for three years. Hatch fractured her knee on Sept. 17 in the game against Oregon State right at the end of pre-season play. She still started in two games the week after her injury. Hatch’s injury was undetectable to fans at that time and she made a strong showing against both teams. She had an assist against Cal Poly to tie the game and a game-winning goal against Long Beach State.
“Obviously it’s a big loss for us not to have Ashley out there. She is such a dominating type player, but our tact has evolved a lot this year,” head coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “Where last year we relied on her so much, now we’ve got other people that are stepping up that have been very dangerous, and you know when someone gets hurt there is always opportunity for others to step up. We’ll be in good shape.”
The team remains strong and doctors say Hatch’s small knee fracture will take four to six weeks to fully heal according to Rockwood. Hatch has been out for four weeks already and her teammates have stepped into their new roles on the field.
“It was definitely a huge loss having Ashley out,” teammate Michele Murphy-Vasconcelos said. “That’s just been hard for us to adapt initially at first, but I think it gives a lot of other players a chance to really step up. It’s not like just a couple people, it is everyone needs to step up, which they are stepping up so well and its been awesome.”
The Cougars used the same starting line-up for all 10 of their pre-season games, but with Hatch’s injury, fans are starting to see more and more changes to the starting line-up each game. Transfer student Jocelyn Loomis and sophomore Madie Lyons will be filling in most of the minutes during Hatch’s injury according to Rockwood. Murphy-Vasconcelos, who previously started as a forward, started in the attacking midfield position while Loomis and Lyons filled the front two forward positions in the Cougars’ most recent game.
“We’ve had a lot of success with our line up and so we hadn’t made any changes, but obviously with Ashley’s injury it has us take a look at a couple of different things,” Rockwood said. “Also, I think when you play that many games you kind of see some different things and obviously we want to put together a line-up and a team that we feel is going to help us be the very best when its the most important.”
Hatch’s teammates have felt the pressure building with her loss. The feeling in the air is not one of dismay, but one of excitement and hope for what all of these changes mean for the team as a whole.
“I think its good for us though, because it helps people to work harder because they know that you can’t get comfortable and I just really like that,” Murphy-Vasoncelos said. “It raises the level at practice and everyone is just competing harder.”
Lyons is the teammate most affected by Hatch’s injury. She played in 19 games last season during her freshman year, but she was not a regular starter. Lyons has stepped up in Hatch’s absence by starting the last four games for the Cougars. Hatch’s injury coincided with the start of WCC season play and so Lyons has started all WCC season games for the Cougars. She assisted the one and only goal of the night against USD helping the Cougars to continue a 13 home game winning streak.
“It’s always really intimidating because Ashley Hatch is All-American and she’s a really important player on the team and we’ll be missing her a lot, so its a lot of pressure,” Lyons said. “But, at the same time I am really excited to get this opportunity and to take advantage of what the coaches have given me. I want to help my team out a little bit and they for sure have been uplifting me too and everyone has been stepping up with Hatch’s absence.”
Fans can expect Hatch back in another week or two just in time for post-season NCAA tournament play. The Cougars will play their next home game against Pepperdine on October 29 at 7 PM.