While playing for her club team in her native Canada, Eastern Michigan keeper Mona Budani suffered an ACL injury to her left knee.
The “hardship,” as Budani described it, came between a spectacular freshman year and before a promising one as a sophomore and caused her to miss all of the 2007 season.
“It was not the call I wanted to hear,” said Scott Hall, who’s in his 11th season as EMU coach.
The injury opened the door for another freshman, Maggie Manville, who put together a fine season while Budani took a medical redshirt. Come 2008, when both were healthy, Hall had to decide whom to play.
Hall went with both goalies, who have basically split starts with excellent results ever since. Following Sunday’s 2-1 win over Ball State, he said the decision comes down to which goalie is playing better at that particular time and the opponent’s style.
“It’s a tandem of two fantastic goalies,” Hall said. “Both of them would love to play every single game, but I think (the rotation) gives the body a little bit more time to rest. And they’re both fresh and excited to get back out for that next game on the weekend.”
Mid-American Conference games are played mostly on Fridays and Sundays. Budani and Manville have split all the weekend games in conference – a role they said they’re comfortable with.
Hall said the goalies have improved each week, and the experience they gained playing every game as freshman is invaluable.
“It’s fun to watch,” he said. “I mean it’s exciting.”
Budani said she saw the game in a different picture when sidelined. It allowed her to pick up on things to use in her own play from observing Manville, too.
“Mentally it was really hard,” said Budani, who wears a protective brace to this day. “You come off an injury, and you don’t know how you’re going to come back.
“You have to be mentally tough. You have to have faith in yourself and just believe you can get back there.”
The keepers, who are both juniors now, said they don’t give each other much advice during games because they said they know when they’ve made a mistake or are playing bad. They do in practice, however, and Budani even talks some trash.
“I just like to tease (my teammates) and tell them they can’t score on my kind of thing,” she said. “I think that just kind of elevates it for everyone, not just the keepers, but the players as well. With that practice mentality, we’re just going to bring that same thing out to the games.”
There is a strong competitive drive between the two. They know if one doesn’t play well, the other will enter and take playing time.
“I feel like if one of us played all the time it could be a situation that we just sit back, and we don’t get better,” Manville said. “By this we just keep pushing each other.”
The goalies said their defenders, midfielders and forwards can make them look good.
“I think our defense is amazing, and they don’t get enough credit for it,” Manville said.
MAC Championship remains goal
EMU (7-3-4, 3-1-2) is second in the conference heading into this weekend’s road games at Western Michigan (3 p.m. Friday) and Northern Illinois (1 p.m. Sunday).
Hall said Wednesday that Budani and Manville will split this weekend’s starts, but he wasn’t sure who will start which games.
Central Michigan (11-3-0, 6-0-0) sits atop the conference. The teams play at 3 p.m. Oct. 29 at Scicluna Field in the final game before the MAC tournament.
The Eagles made it to the conference championship last season and lost 1-0 to Toledo. And since then, Budani and Manville said the team’s goal has been to get back and win the title this time.