“Gosh, the last two years it has been one issue after another for her ... And gosh she was playing well,” Coach Anson Dorrance said. “Now it’s back to day-to-day sort of stuff. So I just feel for the kid.”
At risk of running her into the ground, Dorrance decided to rest Newfield, who missed the entire 2014 season, in the Tar Heels’ tie against the Golden Bears on Friday. North Carolina struggled to create chances in the attacking third throughout the match.
But as UNC’s second match of the weekend drew closer, Dorrance elected to start the redshirt senior, whom he had dubbed his “best player” after Friday’s contest, hoping the extra rest would help deter further injury.
And as she took her place at the top of UNC’s lineup against the Trojans, it was clear what North Carolina had been missing. With Newfield leading the way, the Tar Heels amassed 18 shots, nine corner kicks and two goals in a come-from-behind victory.
“I think (having Newfield) gave everyone more confidence in our attacking capabilities,” said junior forward Sarah Ashley Firstenberg, who scored the game-winning goal for UNC on Sunday.
“She’s so much more experienced than we are and she watches the game, so she creates a lot more runs, a lot more options.”
And while Newfield’s ability to play 60 minutes against USC was comforting, Dorrance knows he will have to budget the forward’s playing time.
While not having her on the field now certainly hurts, he said her ability to play later in the season is a much bigger priority.
“Obviously, this is a magnificent player, and we certainly missed her (Friday), but we can’t win games at the sacrifice of her health,” Dorrance said.
Dorrance also mentioned he has a strategy for when to play the redshirt senior for the foreseeable future.
And while he wouldn’t go into detail, both he and Newfield are confident the approach will provide the team with the best chance for success going forward.
“The coaches have been really patient with me and I’m working through it,” Newfield said.
“We have a plan for each week, what we’re gonna do and how we’re gonna approach it ... so I’m not too concerned about it.”