Field Hockey team’s Emily Girasole plays vital role for defense
Emily Girasole plays one of the lesser known, but instrumental, positions in field hockey.
She is Central Michigan’s starting sweeper.
A sweeper is one of the goalkeeper’s closest allies, as Girasole knows.
“I like my goalie,” Girasole said, who also has a role of co-captain. “I’ll do anything to help her and not have a goal go in.”
A sweeper brushes off shots made by the offense. If the ball slips by the three backs, the sweeper and the goalie are the team’s last hope of nixing the scoring opportunity.
“It’s the quarterback of the defense,” head coach Cristy Freese said. “It’s the person that’s trying to organize the defense early, and then once they have to get involved, then your goalkeeper has to organize the rest of it.”
Brittany Burga, who has a firsthand look at Girasole’s play as a back, confirmed that she performs those duties superbly.
“She just keeps our defense calm,” Burga said. “We can always rely on Emmy. She just handles herself well in many situations.”
Girasole hasn’t always been a sweeper. In fact, for some of her time at CMU, she was a forward.
But lower leg issues resulted in Freese inserting her into the sweeper position last year, and she has taken pride in the position.
“It took some time to get used to the position, but I like it a lot,” Girasole said. “(Freese) can put me anywhere, and I’ll be ready to go.”
The co-captain was ready to go in the first two games of the season last weekend. She earned Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Week for her performance.
The Chippewas allowed four goals, one after regulation, last weekend against Radford and Villanova.
“I think it showed a lot about our team,” Girasole said. “We are good and ready to compete, so I was really excited to get it.”
Freese said it’s nice that she still has skills and knowledge gained from her days as a forward in her arsenal.
“We really moved her back to limit her running and really be able to manage her,” Freese said. “It’s really an asset now, as she’s become an experienced defender, and she still has an offensive mind.”
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