It was the first match of the preseason, the first shot of the game, and Jackie Mauro’s first opportunity at a save. A screaming shot was rapidly approaching as the senior stretched out to make the save.
She stopped the shot, but was writhing in pain. At first she thought her right wrist was broken, but X-rays revealed a severe sprain.
“It felt like my hand fell off. Thank God it wasn’t anything more severe,” Mauro said after the Owls dropped a 3-0 decision to Delaware on Sunday. “It scared the hell out of me, because I couldn’t move it, I couldn’t do anything with it. I usually get injured once a year. Maybe that was my injury for the year.”
While Mauro was still able to practice, she missed the first three games of the season to let the wrist fully heal. Sitting on the bench is something to which she is not accustomed.
Mauro, who has been a full-time starter since her freshman year, came into the season having started 49 of 51 games.
“Three games is the longest I’ve ever been out,” she said. “So it was hard sitting on the bench watching. It’s my last year, so I want to be in every game. I want to be in the mix.”
Against Delaware, she gave up all three goals, but coach David Jones didn’t fault her. The fluid ball movement by the Blue Hens and Temple’s defensive breakdowns put Mauro in vulnerable situations.
The Owls have now lost five straight games to Delaware. Despite the loss and letting up the goals, Jones seemed to be the least concerned with his goalkeeper.
“She’s excellent, and today gave up a few goals that I wouldn’t say were her fault,” he said. “They were all opportunities where nobody is going to make that save.”
On her difficulties with sitting out, Jones added, “It was tough. It really was just a sprain and she could practice. But we wanted to make sure she was back at 100 percent before we took a chance at it. It’s never easy for a player on the sideline to watch, but I think she’ll be fine.”
As Mauro was healing and anxiously awaiting her return, Jones was forced to open the season with sophomore Elizabeth Tarasevich. She picked up two of three wins to start the year.
Jones said the playing time for Tarasevich was a positive thing, considering that Mauro will now get a bulk of the minutes. Last year Tarasevich saw action in nine games and started just one.
“To her credit, she came in fit and worked hard over the summer and I think that’s going to help her down the line,” Jones said.
Another reason Jones didn’t panic when Mauro went down was that Tarasevich will likely be the starter next year. The experience will only help.
Now that Mauro is healthy again, Jones didn’t hesitate to go back to his incumbent.
Mauro was eager to play as soon as possible and made this clear to the team’s trainers.
“I think the trainers were getting annoyed with me,” Mauro said, “because I kept bugging them everyday and asking ‘Can I play yet?’ And they would say no. I definitely wanted to get back in there as soon as I could.”
In the last few years the Owls have been lean at the goalkeeper position. During Mauro’s first two years, she was without a backup, so she endured a lot of bumps and bruises early on.
Last year, Mauro breathed a sigh of relief when Tarasevich arrived. While Mauro expects to start the rest of the way, she doesn’t have to deal with the burden of being the lone keeper on the team
Mauro described her relationship with Tarasevich as a friendly competition in which they “push each other to do our best.”
Tarasevich was initially jolted by news of being named starter and realized an opportunity like this was rare.
“Knowing I had to come in and start was a whole different mentality,” she said. “But I was excited and ready to come out and do it.”
Tarasevich added, “It’s great to have somebody ahead of me. Yeah, I’d like to play all the games, but to have somebody ahead of me that’s so good, I get to strive to be as good as her.”
Jason S. Haslam can be reached at email@example.com.