Injured captain assumes coaching role in final season
Few athletes look forward to playing on Senior Day, as it usually represents the last game they play in front of a home crowd before moving on to endeavors outside of sports.
But Rutgers women’s soccer senior midfielder Karla Schacher would likely give anything for the opportunity to suit up against Seton Hall on Oct. 26 to close her career in Piscataway.
The Alberta, Canada, native tore her ACL on Sept. 4 against UCLA, cutting short her senior season and also the Scarlet Knights’ depth on their attack.
With the clock finally stopped on her days playing on the pitch, Schacher now focuses on the next step in her soccer career.
“It’s my senior year, and I’m not really going to step on the field again, so the next step in my career is coaching,” said Schacher, who will serve as a student-assistant coach for the remainder of the season. “I’ve been doing that for a while, so I look at myself as kind of coaching the team and helping them get better at their positions.”
Schacher, who underwent surgery today to repair her ACL, has had plenty of time to build her soccer résumé, with experience ranging from the Canadian U-20 team to a solid career in a Knights uniform.
The fifth-year senior finished her career ninth all time on the Rutgers scoring list with 18 career goals, and exuded consistency over the past two seasons for head coach Glenn Crooks with five goals each season.
Schacher hopes to relay some of her soccer knowledge to the young group of Knights forwards, many of whom continue to earn their stripes early in their careers.
But the time may be sooner than later for the team’s youthful roster to blossom.
Sophomore forward Jonelle Filigno, the team’s leading scorer with six goals, is questionable for Friday’s match at Pittsburgh, while junior forward Stefanee Pace is second on the team in scoring with only two goals.
Although it is no easy task to watch the team play from the sidelines, junior forward Tricia DiPaolo, who continues to recover from an ACL injury herself, admitted there are positives to take into consideration while off the pitch.
“It’s difficult because we don’t necessarily get to see what’s going on on the field,” DiPaolo said. “When you’re playing, you have a different view of the game rather than sitting and watching. But I also think it has its benefits because you can see things from the outside that you may not be able to see from the inside.”
Freshmen forwards Stefanie Scholz and Amy Pietrangelo could be the benefactors of Schacher’s new view of the pitch.
Both own a goal this season, while Pietrangelo bests Scholz in assists thus far, 2-1.
“She requested us if she can be in a role where she’s a student-assistant coach, and I think that’s fantastic,” Crooks said. “Karla sees the game so well, and she’s done a lot of coaching. She really has a good feel for it, so I think that’s a benefit to the team for certain.”
But more than anything else, Schacher wants to see her team succeed this season.
The coaching intangibles are there, according to Crooks, and Schacher’s on-field experience is evident in the statistics she compiled throughout her career.
The next step for Schacher is to channel those coaching attributes toward helping her young teammates off the pitch.
Because like any coach would want, Schacher yearns to see her team win.
“The biggest thing is I want my team to win,” Schacher said. “Whether I’m on the field or not, I want them to win. I want them to make the Big East Tournament. I want them to make the NCAA’s. I want to go far, no matter whether I could play or not. Team is what matters most, and if we make it, it’s all that counts.”