The women's soccer team will be without its All-American senior Becca Wann for the remainder of the season.
Wann, who wears soccer-specific protective headgear during games, suffered a concussion Aug. 25 in the last few minutes of a 3-1 win against Old Dominion.
"There was a bouncing ball at midfield," Wann said. "I went in with my head and my headgear popped up and I headed a girl from ODU on the right side of my forehead."
Throughout the week following the game, Wann felt no symptoms of a concussion, she said. She didn't start noticing symptoms until about mid week, she said.
"I told myself on Wednesday that if I woke up with a headache, then I would tell our trainer," Wann said. "And I did, so I went to the doctor on Friday and found out I couldn't play soccer anymore."
Wann said she had suffered four or five concussions in her lifetime. Wann and her coach, Peter Albright, decided not to break the news to the rest of the team until after its first home game against Longwood last Friday.
Albright and Wann gathered the team together on Saturday afternoon to tell them the news.
"That was tough," said Wann. "They had no idea. They thought I was out with a hamstring injury... It was a really hard conversation to have with them, but I told them I wasn't going anywhere and they were going to be fine without me."
The team would have to play its remaining 14 games without its standout captain, but that's not what the players were thinking about.
"There was a little bit of a shock," Albright said. "Players reached out to Becca first as a friend. There were some hugs and crying. The soccer aspect wasn't really on anyone's mind."
Wann was already off to a strong start in her senior campaign, scoring two goals in the Spiders' first two games. Her list of career accolades includes being named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year in 2010, an NSCAA Division I All-American first team honoree in 2011 and winning a gold medal at the 2012 FIFA U20 World Cup in Japan as part of the Women's National team.
"Injuries are a major part of women's soccer," said Albright. "It's an obstacle we have to overcome. She's irreplaceable but we have a lot of other attackers ready to step up."
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Wann is also a member of the women's basketball team. Every year, as soon as soccer ends, Wann takes a week off to recover then joins her basketball teammates as if no time had passed.
"I don't know anybody like her," said women's basketball coach Michael Shafer. "To be an All-American, a gold medalist at the World Cup and a Sixth Player of the Year in the Atlantic 10 in basketball. To do all those things with that level of success is unprecedented."
Wann is expected to be able to play for the basketball team after being cleared by doctors but wants to sit down with her parents and coaches to decide if that would be the right decision for her future health, she said.
"Honestly, I get chills talking about it," said Shafer. " It's a tremendous thrill and honor to get to coach her and to be that close to her."
Although Shafer was relieved that Wann will still potentially be able to take the court this season, his thoughts were with Wann and the women's soccer team.
"I was disappointed and saddened for her, coach Alright and her teammates," said Shafer. "I think it's a tremendous blow. It's a lot for somebody to lose at the snap of a finger."
Wann finishes her soccer career as the programs second-leading scorer (34 goals) and fifth in points (55).
"The support has been incredible," said Wann. "Especially from my coaches and my teammates. Also from the Richmond community, high school and church. It's made it a lot easier than it could have been.
Contact staff writer Oliver Murphy at email@example.com
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