MASH unit

By By Tom Quinn

By Tom Quinn

It’s pretty easy to spot Amanda Sanchez at U soccer games. She’s tall, she has dark hair and she’s the one sitting on the bench looking visibly upset.

Sanchez, a junior defender, anchored the back line for the Utes all through 2005, but after being sidelined with a broken foot while the season was still in its infancy, all she can do to help the team is cheer-a role that she doesn’t exactly relish.

“Not being able to play is really frustrating,” Sanchez said. “I’m a vocal player on the field, but I’m not really sure what I could be doing to help from the sideline.”

It’s obvious that Sanchez would give virtually anything to be out on the field with her teammates, but the odds of that happening are growing slimmer each week. Unfortunately for No. 25, she’s the worst off of all the Utes’ walking wounded.

Although almost the entire defense has been banged up at one time or another, Sanchez’s injury is by far the most serious. Her break required surgery, and the doctors still haven’t removed the two screws holding her foot together.

The lengthy rehab required by the hardware is clearly a source of frustration for the defender.

“I’m going back to the doctor this week,” Sanchez said in a sardonic tone. “Maybe I’ll finally be able to start jogging this week.”

Fortunately for Sanchez, she has a kindred spirit in fellow defender Tasia Duarte.

Duarte, a senior defender, has been sidelined since July with a pair of stress fractures in her tibia.

“This injury has been really frustrating, especially since this is my senior year,” Duarte said. “I was hoping to get in at least one full season.”

Unlike Sanchez, Duarte is no stranger to the trainer’s room. She has been the Darryl Poston of Utah soccer, missing significant time to injury during all four of her seasons at the U.

These days, however, her bad luck seems to be subsiding. Doctors have cleared her to practice without restrictions, and she could be making a comeback as early as next week.

But even if both players were ready to go tomorrow, there would still be some doubt as to whether or not they would see any action. While Sanchez and Duarte have been struggling just to get healthy, their teammates have been staying in game shape and developing chemistry with one another.

Furthermore, with almost half the season gone, players in situations like theirs have to start thinking about taking a medical redshirt, an action that would officially end their season but allow them to live to play another day.

“It’s definitely something that has crossed my mind,” Sanchez said. “But it would be a really tough decision to make. I’d be able to play more in the future, but I also want to play with this year’s seniors.”

Duarte has also adopted a wait-and-see perspective with regard to taking a redshirt.

“I’ve thought about it this year,” she says. “It would be nice to play a full season next year. Plus the other girls are already in game shape. Would I be able to catch up this late in the year?”

All things considered, Rich Manning has done an admirable job finding temporary replacements for his sidelined stars, but some fans can’t help but wonder how the team would fare in the event that the temps become permanent.

With the injury and lineup issues far from being settled, soccer aficionados will doubtless be keeping an eye on Sanchez’s foot and Duarte’s leg as the rest of the season unfolds.

Chronicle File Photo

Tasia Duarte goes up for a header against a Purdue player in a Sept. 9, 2005 match last season at Ute Field. Duarte is currently battling injury and it is unsure when she will return to the field.