Tear, strain, break and fracture. In the midst of a season packed with daily practices and arduous games, injuries are an unfortunate and inevitable part of all sports.
For Penn women's soccer, injuries are the ill-fated reality with which they must deal. Right now, the team's success depends on how the Quakers respond to the loss of a certain player and how her replacement performs coming off the bench.
Starting senior goalkeeper Kalijah Terilli was hurt in the first half of the Red and Blue's game against Clemson over two weeks ago and has been out ever since. In her spot, junior Carrie Crook has stepped in and played well, earning the support of her coaches and fellow teammates in the meantime.
Although Crook never saw regular-season action in her first two years for Penn, she was ready for the challenge as soon as Terilli went down.
“I had been working hard for two years, and I knew I had to go in, hold down the fort, continue doing what [Terilli] had been doing during the season,” Crook said. “We’ve had a little bit of a rough patch but we are working through it. I’m getting a lot more experience, so I can feel myself getting better.”
This experience has been instrumental in Crook, along with the Quakers' defenders, becoming more comfortable with one another.
“I think a lot of it is understanding the tactical situations that will occur in a game and how to anchor the defense in response to that.”
Crook’s teammates have rallied around her as well.
“From the second I came in, they’ve been really supportive. I felt like they put their trust in me, which I really appreciated a lot, “ she said.
Losing a team’s top goalie, especially one of Terilli’s caliber, is never an easy fix for a team. For context, in the summer of 2014, Terilli was invited to train with the U-23 U.S. National Team at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Ca.
Coach Nicole Van Dyke recognizes the hole Terilli's absence presents, but is also incredibly pleased with how her team handled the situation and Crook’s play in her short stint as starter.
“The great thing is anytime you lose your staring goalkeeper it’s a challenge, and Carrie has done a great job stepping in. The team has responded well defensively, we’ve been a tight ship," said Van Dyke. "However, Kalijah is an international goalkeeper and [at] Penn you don’t get too many players that played on a national team.
“It’s a great opportunity for Carrie, and she’s done a great job. Nobody anticipates your starting goalkeeper going down, and I think she’s done a really good job taking our coaching points. She’s watched a lot of video. She’s done a great job stepping into a difficult role.”
Communication and trust between a goalie and the defense in front of her is key in the success of any team’s backline. It’s also something that can only grow out of logging hours of playing in games together as a unit, rather than something that can be figured out on the practice field.
“I think last game we encouraged and challenged [Crook] to communicate more and she really has grown in that role," said Van Dyke. "You have a certain personality so you have to make sure you’re saying the right things and have that confidence which only comes from playing games. I think she will only get more comfortable as she plays more minutes.”
Although Terilli’s injury has not been disclosed, Van Dyke was pleased with her progress in recovering from the setback. It is unclear how much longer Crook will be in her starting role.
The uncertainty does not seem to be fazing the Red and Blue. For as long as Terilli is on the sidelines, it appears that Crook will continue to get the playing time and will continue to improve. With the full support of teammates and coaches, the Quakers look to be in good hands without their starting goalkeeper.
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