Junior transfer’s flexibility yields more responsibility
On paper, junior Rachel Breton does not make a whole lot of noise. But on the field, her play speaks for itself.
The transfer joined the Rutgers women’s soccer team as a forward this year after leaving Villanova at the end of the 2009 season to be closer to home.
Breton played virtually every position but goalkeeper for head coach Glenn Crooks and after a pair of active performances in the back four, the Manalapan, N.J., native may have found her new home.
“I love Rachel Breton, and she’ll tell you first thing I’ve gotten on her pretty heavily and pretty hard this year about certain things,” Crooks said. “But here’s a kid that comes up and plays forward for us. Here’s a kid that goes into the midfield when we need her and now she goes into the back when we need her.”
The 5-foot-4 Breton won nearly any ball that came her way while at back against Notre Dame and did not hesitate to push into midfield to become involved in the offense.
Her experience at forward could be to blame, but Breton points to her soccer knowledge as a whole for her success.
“It’s hard to get into a certain continuity and get used to things, but I’m a soccer player, so I can play anywhere,” Breton said.
It is the same selflessness that earned the attention of her head coach and teammates.
“For her to sacrifice like that, and to be quite honest with you her best soccer has been in the back, she played a big role in our four points this weekend,” Crooks said.
Breton started her collegiate career as a defender for the Wildcats in 2008, but soon moved to the front third for the Wildcats. She scored a goal and registered two assists in her last season in Villanova, Pa., two years ago, and now finds herself operating in her original college position.
Although the Freehold Regional High School product still serves in a reserve role for her new team, her impact is apparent when she is in the game and her workload increases.
Breton averaged 62 minutes per game in the Scarlet Knights’ pair of contests last weekend, a sharp rise compared to her season average of 34.6.
“I think this weekend was huge for her,” said junior back Shannon Woeller, who averages 94 minutes a game. “She’s kind of raw back there. She doesn’t have the experience as a natural defender, but she works really hard. She listens well to every kind of instruction that you can give her and she’s a really smart player so she picks things up real fast.”
But the utility player’s move to Piscataway was never about playing time, just like her playing back was never about herself.
Breton moved back to New Jersey to feel closer to home and discover a second family, and she accomplished both goals in her move to the Banks, she said.
“I knew that it was close to home and it is somewhat of a home,” Breton said. “When I’m here, the biggest difference between Villanova and [Rutgers] is that I feel at home. My whole team and my coaches are on my side 100 percent no matter what, through everything.”
While the Knights continue to fight for a postseason berth in the Big East’s National Division, Breton earns even more opportunities to compete at the highest level.
The Wildcats recorded a miserable 7-12 campaign featuring only two Big East wins last season — Breton’s redshirt season at Rutgers — but qualified for the NCAA Tournament in her sophomore season.
The Knights still have a lot of work to do before they think about NCAA qualification, but Crooks made it clear Breton played a key role last weekend in leading the Knights to four points.
Whether her role remains the same Friday is still uncertain, but do not expect Breton to care much if her position changes yet again.
“It’s fun. It’s like, ‘What’s my role today?” she said. “It’s, ‘How do I pick up the team?’”