August 18, 2019 | 74° F

Jones' injury inspires team to move forward

Photo by Jeff Lazaro |

Jen Anzivino (right) Julia Lancos (left) celebrate the Scarlet Knights' game-winning goal vs. DePaul.

"Just win the [expletive] game."

With tears streaming down her face, while lying on the ground, immobile because of a shattered right leg, those were the words spoken by Ashley Jones when she looked up at her head coach.

That was her message to the Scarlet Knights before being taken off the field on a gurney in the 23rd minute of Sunday's match with DePaul.

The feisty, speedy, fierce leader of the Rutgers women's soccer team, now officially out for the year with two compound factures in her right leg, relayed the message that's got her team through moments like this before.

"Just win the [expletive] game."

That was the message RU head coach Glenn Crooks delivered to his players at halftime. They were the only words spoken about Jones when the Knights went into the locker room down 1-0.

Words weren't necessary at that moment.

The Knights had just watched their teammate, their friend, lying on their home field in agony for almost half an hour.

They were still in shock, but they still had work to do. As hard as it was to regain their focus at that moment, the message was still clear to everyone in that locker room — just as clear as it was the four other times this season RU was forced to overcome a season ending injury to one of their starters.

"Just win the [expletive] game."

Senior back Jen Anzivino understood it. But when she lined up to take a penalty kick in the 57th minute — with her team still down 1-0 — she had her doubts before netting the game-tying shot.

"I was a little worried; I didn't know if mentally I could take the kick because I was so all over the place before hand," Anzivino said. "But honestly, as I was getting up to take it, I thought, ‘Just get it in the back of the net, you've done this a million times. Do it for Ashley. We'll get the second goal and we'll go home.'"

When sophomore back Julia Lancos finally scored the game-winner in overtime, the celebration that erupted on the field wasn't out of surprise. It was the opposite: It was out of the sheer joy that came from being able to show everyone in attendance what the Knights have shown so many times before — that injuries weren't going to stop them.

They won that game for their teammate.

But that final statement went beyond that.

"We wouldn't be where we are without Ashley," Crooks said. "But this just means that somebody else is going to have to play some more minutes and make their own statement. And that's what's happened throughout this season. [Whenever we've needed someone to step up], everybody has done the job. It's very satisfying in that way. And for that, I'm so proud of this team."

RU walked off the field Sunday as a team once again drastically altered because of injuries. Yet, through all of that change, the team's mindset stayed the same, and it's not changing now.

"It speaks for itself," Anzivino said. "Players just really want to get it done. We all want to win; we all feel we can win. So when someone goes down, we're just going to keep rebuilding."

Crooks watched his team live up to those words all season, but watching its performance Sunday took his feelings a step further.

"For them to be able to recover from [Jones' injury] was incredible," he said. "These are young ladies, they're only 18, 19, 20-years-old. I could barely recover from it. This is a special group and [Sunday] proved it. I don't care what happens for the rest of the year."

With the odds continuing to stack higher and higher against RU, the game plan, the mentality, the attitude remains the same as it's been through two years of fighting through injuries.

Jones couldn't have summed it up any better:

"Just win the [expletive] game." 

Chris Melchiorre

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