Panthers hope to bounce back from last season’s injuries


Jason Howell

Jason Howell | The Daily Eastern News
 Red-shirt sophomore defender Lindsey Marino maneuvers the ball away from an opponent in a game on Sunday at Lakeside Field. The Panthers lost to the Indiana State Sycamores 2-0. The Panthers are 0-2 overall.

Dominic Renzetti, Assistant Sports Editor

After an injury-filled 2013 season, Eastern head women’s soccer coach Jason Cherry is hoping for a much healthier 2014.

The Panthers had a number of injuries last year to key players, but those players have recovered since last season.

Red-shirt sophomore Lindsey Marino missed all of last season with an ACL injury, but got her first start of the season on Friday against Northern Kentucky. Marino also started the second match against Indiana State, playing 75 minutes at defender for the Panthers. Marino had not played since the 2012 season finale against Belmont.

“It’s a hard transition to get back into the swing of things, but it’s good to be out there and playing with my team and everything because I miss that,” she said following Eastern’s 2-0 loss Sunday. “We’re a lot closer as a team and a lot better as a team; we really came together this preseason.”

The Panthers are also returning junior Karlee Deacon, who missed part of last season with a concussion, as well as sophomore forward Gabby Charles, who missed 13 games last season with an ACL injury of her own.

Deacon has appeared in each of the Panthers two matches this season, starting against Indiana State. Charles has yet to appear in a match this season, but Cherry said her recovery and rehab were going well.

A new injury the team must cope with is the loss of last season’s starting goalkeeper Cortney Jerzy. She will miss the entire season after suffering another concussion during the spring.

“She just struggled getting back into it,” Cherry said. “It’s been really difficult for her, personally, which is totally understandable. She’s an awesome kid and very passionate about the game.”

Jerzy’s absence leaves Eastern with just two goalkeepers on its roster, one of which was injured for much of 2013.

Red-shirt sophomore Kylie Morgan is entering her second season at Eastern after transferring from the University of Kentucky. Morgan did not play during the 2012 season at Kentucky after suffering a hand injury. A broken finger kept her out for much of the season in 2013 as well.

Cherry said Morgan’s recovery is going well.

“Kylie has been great,” he said. “No injuries, hoping we can keep it that way.

Morgan and junior Emily Hinton are competing for the starting spot. So far it has been Hinton in goal for the first two games. Cherry said before the season that he and new assistant coach Raymundo Gonzalez are evaluating both players after each practice.

“I’m kind of debating, everything being equal, give [one player] one game, one the other, or if someone has won the spot, give them a block of games and see if they keep the spot,” he said. “If that’s the case we’ll just go with that, try and give them some continuity.”

Morgan and Hinton started a combined eight matches last season, with Hinton starting the beginning of the season before making way for Morgan. Morgan’s injury brought up Jerzy, who went on to finish out the season as the team’s starter. The Panthers’ other goalkeeper from last season, Jessica Kiely, is now at the University of St. Francis. She did not see any playing time at Eastern in 2013.

Another player coming back from injury is sophomore Kathleen MacKinnon, who missed time last season with mono and arthritis in her feet. Cherry said her recovery is also going well. MacKinnon has started in each of the Panthers first two matches.

Cherry said he was impressed with the shape MacKinnon was in when she reported for the preseason and hopes that the little injuries that plagued the team last year are behind them.

“I think everyone came into camp fitter,” he said. “Which is going to help with those little injuries that happen when you don’t come in fit.”

The Panthers take on Marshall at 1 p.m. Friday and Louisiana Tech at 1 p.m. Sunday. Both matches are at Lakeside Field.

 Dominic Renzetti (@domrenzetti) can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].