The first-place UNB Varsity Reds women’s soccer team has been dealt a major blow.
Veteran goalkeeper Sami-Jo Bell is done for the season with a third degree MCL tear and ACL damage. The extent of the ACL damage is not yet known.
Bell was injured during the first half of UNB’s Oct. 3 game at the Université de Moncton, twisting her leg after getting her foot stuck in the turf. Varsity Reds head coach Jon Crossland said the team knew right away that it could be a serious injury.
“Seeing it in person you knew there was potential for it to be [serious],” said Crossland. “Obviously you try to knock that thought out of your head and go with the best case scenario — that it’s just a strain or a sprain.”
Bell is in her third year of eligibility but in her first year at UNB after transferring from Saint Mary’s.
“It’s a loss, absolutely, in the fact that you feel terrible for a student-athlete who’s had a very good start to a career at UNB and will not have the opportunity to see out a season,” said Crossland.
“Sami-Jo’s vocal, she’s confident, and she helps organize the team. Those things come with playing experience and being a little bit older. We’ll definitely miss those things.”
Up until the injury, Bell had played every minute of the Varsity Reds regular season. In Moncton she was replaced by rookie Rebecca Duda. The freshman then got her first career start on Oct. 5 against Dalhousie, a 1-0 loss, which was UNB’s final game before the Thanksgiving break.
Crossland said he has been pleased with Duda’s play so far, maintaining UNB’s lead during the Moncton game and putting in a sound performance against Dalhousie.
“We recruited knowing that we needed more than one capable keeper. Right now, Rebecca Duda will get the ball from here on out.”
UNB has sat atop the Atlantic University Sport standings for most of the season, posting a 6-1-2 record for 20 points. The Reds have four games remaining and have Acadia (20 points), UPEI (17 points), Dalhousie (16 points) and MUN (16 points) all breathing down their necks.
The Varsity Reds travel to UPEI to battle the Panthers tomorrow. They’ll host Moncton on Sunday, Mount Allison on Wednesday and Saint Mary’s the following Friday to complete their regular season schedule.