ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine women’s soccer team has lost two key players for the rest of the season due to injury.
Freshman goalkeeper Lauren Swant suffered a season-ending knee injury in a 3-1 win at Binghamton on Oct. 7 and sophomore right midfielder Liis Emajoe suffered an arm injury in a 5-1 loss at Stony Brook last Thursday.
Both require surgeries, according to head coach Scott Atherley, but both should be ready for next season.
Swant won the job from senior three-year starter Meagan Price-Leibenzeder and posted a 1.36 goals-against average and a .761 save percentage. She played in 13 games, starting 11 of them, and had a 6-4-2 record and three shutouts.
Emajoe, who plays for the Estonian national team, had two goals in 13 games.
Atherley said both Swant and Emajoe were having outstanding seasons but he feels his team has “great depth.”
“People have been stepping up for us all year,” said Atherley.
Price-Leibenzeder, a captain for the second straight year and member of the America East All-Rookie team in 2009 thanks to her seven shutouts, is coming of a bout of pneumonia and has played in two games since Swant’s injury.
She made nine saves in the loss to Stony Brook and four in Sunday’s 2-1 win over archrival New Hampshire that earned the Black Bears a spot in the six-team America East tournament.
“The good news for us is we’re replacing Laurent with a seasoned player, somebody who has demonstrated great capability at this level,” said Atherley. “She has had valuable experience in big games. She played in a championship game and faced penalty kicks in the semifinals. She’s more than capable.”
Atherley also called her a “natural leader” and she handled her demotion to back-up goalkeeper with a “fantastic attitude” and that has earned her even more credibility and respect among her teammates.
Emajoe, according to Atherley, was having a “fantastic season” and had a “phenomenal work rate.”
He has tried several players at right mid and said freshman Alex Abrahams has come on to do a nice job and earn the spot.
She has a goal and an assist in seven games.
Maine is 7-6-2 overall, 3-3-1 in America East, and will play its final regular season game at 3 p.m. Thursday at home against Albany.
A win could earn the Bears a home berth for the quarterfinals.
The top two teams earn first-round byes while the third place team hosts number six and number four entertains number five in quarterfinal match-ups. All games will be played at the home site of the higher-seeded team.
Thursday will also be Seniors Day and Maine will honor Price-Leibenzeder and standout center back Maddie Hill.