The Michigan Daily - Thursday September 23, 2004 - 13A
Michigan thrives on contact
By Matt Singer
Daily Sports Writer
Do you think soccer is a "non-
contact sport?" Do you believe that
girls aren't tough athletes?
Senior soccer captain Rachel
Rothenbach has four words for you:
"Come to a game."
You'll see a lot at your first Mich-
igan women's soccer match: three
young athletes on the Wolverine
sideline, sporting huge leg casts to
allow their torn
ACLs to heal; a d
pile of girls run- _
ning into each
other, hoping to
redirect a corner kick in their favor;
slide-tackles that miss the ball but
get a big chunk of human flesh;
bumping, pushing, shoving and even
the occasional ponytail pull.
"Everyone's hitting each other
- everyone's going up for heads.
falling on the ground," Rothen-
bach said. "You have to be
aggressive in order to stay in
What you won't find is a
Wolverine shying away from
"If, during the game,
there's not a lot of contact.
I would like to make it
(more physical)," sopho-
more midfielder Katelin
Spencer is no strang-
er to the more painful
aspects of soccer. In
a tight match against -'
Ohio, she flung t
herself into a =
scrum in front of
the net, hoping to,
convert a Michigan corner kick.
Her header attempt came up empty
- sort of. Although she missed
the ball, she caught a good chunk
of her opponent's head. The result-
ing gash would require plastic sur-
gery, holding her out
of four games and
forcing her to wear
a headband upon
her return. But
"If you don't go in strong, you're
probably going to get hurt," Rothen-
Spencer and Rothenbach's physi-
cal style is not the exception - it's
the rule. Michigan coach Debbie
Rademacher has imbued her team
with the intensity and drive to chal-
lenge every play, even if it means
going into harm's way. She's been
involved with collegiate soccer
long enough to know that toughness
shows up on the scoreboard.
"Division I soccer is very physi-
cal," Rademacher said. "If you
can't play the physical game, you
can't be successful, no matter
how good a soccer player
you are. We may not
always be the biggest
team, but we always
train, lift, work to
get stronger all the
FILE PHOTO defi-
soccer is played."
But when it comes down to it, the
team believes that playing tough is
just more fun. After all, where else
is pushing someone considered a
For these girls, there are few
things more fulfilling than being
rewarded for your grit.
"I like contact because it pumps
me up personally," Rothenbach
said. "When you hit hard it feels
good and you win the ball. The rest
of the team sees how hard you're
playing and then they want to play
Michigan junior Therese Heaton (18) fights for the ball during Michigan's 1-0 win over Illinois.
Unlucky Heatonfially healthy
to be willing
to get in there
and grind it out,"
Spencer said. "If
you get hurt once in
a while - it's going
to happen, it will
- that can't affect
you. You've got to go
in 100-percent all the
injury, Rothenbach - a
defender - believes
that playing aggres-
sively is the best way to
By Seth Gordon
Daily Sports Writer
Last year, forward Therese Heaton was hampered by a
series of injuries that limited her to just eight starts. Heaton's
absence was a factor in the Michigan soccer team's inability
to score goals last season. Back and healthy in this, her junior
year, Heaton has started all eight games this season and has
already scored as many goals - seven - as the entire team
did in that span last year.
Heaton dealt with injuries even before she came to Michi-
gan. As a senior at Wheaton Warrenville South High School
in Illinois, she tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee.
Heaton had to go through a rigorous rehabilitation just to get
on the field for her freshman season. But when she did, things
began to click right away.
Heaton scored just 36 seconds into her second col-
legiate game against No. 13 Florida - her first of two
goals in the game. She continued on a steady scoring
pace, compiling 10 goals and four assists on the season.
Her 24-point performance was good for third best by a
freshman in school history.
In the second round of the 2002 NCAA tournament, Hea-
ton scored her second game-winning goal of the postseason
during a 2-0 victory over Pepperdine. But, later in the game
Heaton dislocated her shoulder and tore her labrum - the
ring of cartilage that attaches to and extends into the ball joint
of the shoulder.
Heaton was able to continue training and conditioning fol-
lowing the season while she rehabbed her shoulder, but she
developed compartment syndrome in her calves during the
Compartment syndrome - when the sheath around the
calf muscle is unable to expand as the muscle does - often
arises from excessive training. Heaton, who was in consider-
able pain and barely able to walk, underwent surgery in the
spring to correct the problem.
Early in the summer of 2003, Heaton had recovered from
surgery and returned home to compete with her club team.
Disaster struck once more. During practice, Heaton separated
her shoulder again, and this time the injury would require
surgery - her second in three months.
As fall rolled around, Heaton was back with the team, but
she was out of shape after two surgeries and hadn't played
since November of the previous year.
"It was a struggle, my sophomore year," Heaton said. "I
wasn't playing as well as I knew that I was capable of play-
ing. It was a combination of coming off my injuries but also
my confidence just wasn't the same. As the season progressed
and I got more and more frustrated with my play - it just
snowballed into one big disaster."
Heaton played in 25 games in her sophomore year but
started in just eight, scoring just two goals and notching three
"It truly makes a difference when you can play and train
all year 'round," Heaton said. "I was constantly having to
fight back from square one. I'd get back from an injury and
I'd have my next one and I'd be back at the beginning again.
After my shoulder surgery, I came back and had a frustrating
Heaton has come into this year healthy and is leading the
team with seven goals and two assists for 16 points.
"I was able to train hard all through the winter, all through
the spring, all through the summer," Heaton said. "Now I'm
back and I feel great and I think it has made a difference."
Heaton is part of a change that No. 16 Michigan (5-2-1,
2-0 Big Ten) has made up front in order to score more goals,
which was an Achilles' heel for the Wolverines last year.
Michigan coach Debbie Rademacher has employed a 4-3-3
formation, which uses three forwards on the attack to increase
Michigan's scoring power.
The addition of freshman Melissa Dobbyn and the return
of Heaton to join senior Kate Morgan on the attack have been
important. With the new formation, Rademacher can get all
three players on the field at the same time.
"It's definitely been great this year," Heaton said. "The
chemistry up front has been awesome with Dobbyn here and
us playing the three-front. Morgan and I got to play all sum-
mer together. I think the chemistry and the familiarity we
have with each other has been really good and Dobbyn has
come and fit right into the mix."
With the success that Heaton and the Wolverines have
enjoyed so far this season, Heaton is thankful that she has
been able to stay healthy on and off the field.
"For me, personally, it's very important mentally," Heaton
said. "I just put the past behind me and decided this was going
to be a fresh start. I've worked really hard and I've tried to
have more confidence in my play. I'm trying to forget the past
successes or failures I've had, and just go out there and give
it my all every time."
z . l '
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