Rebecca Pongetti plays unfazed with face mask after breaking nose

first_img Published on September 29, 2015 at 9:08 pm Contact Matt: mralex01@syr.edu Rebecca Pongetti knows she looks like someone straight from a movie. On the field, her face is shielded by a plastic mask that’s fastened by thick black straps.The playful comparisons are inevitable, and Pongetti has heard them all.“Phantom of the Opera, Jason, Hannibal (Lecter), a transformer, Batman,” she said.  “So it’s been a lot.”Pongetti broke her nose about two weeks into the preseason, and now wears a custom mask for protection. But despite an appearance reminiscent of a fiction character, the junior has embraced her mask as a confidence booster when it comes to contesting for balls in Syracuse’s (4-7-1, 0-3 Atlantic Coast) midfield as a defensive stopper.The incident occurred on a fairly routine drill in practice. Pongetti lined up in the defensive wall to block a free kick when the ball whizzed right into her face.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“She decided to stop the ball with her nose on a free kick,” SU head coach Phil Wheddon said jokingly. “It’s probably not a good idea.”Even with the broken nose, Pongetti continued to train for the next few days before having a quick surgery. After a couple short days to recover, she was back on the field.This season, Pongetti is playing more of a defensive-oriented role in SU’s midfield, a position Wheddon referred to as “the holding midfielder.”“She hasn’t let it get to her at all,” forward Stephanie Skilton said. “She kind of got hurt and broke her nose and then it was straight back into it within a couple days. The mask doesn’t faze her.”Ironically, her job is to win balls in the midfield by contesting them in the air, often by jumping up and heading the ball away. She stands as the single line of defense before SU’s back line.Pongetti said she doesn’t view the mask as an impediment, but rather as motivation. She finds comfort in the protection it offers, a tangible reminder to be fearless on the field.“If I was going to be fearful of heading the ball then there’s no reason of me being on the field,” she said. “I had a mask to protect me and I have to trust that, and I have to just play my game whether it’s broken or not.”Pongetti wore a generic mask off the shelf when she first suffered her injury, but it was thick and impeded her vision.The padding underneath the eyes prevented Pongetti from seeing just 5 to 6 yards in front of her. The plastic frame would dig into her when she turned her head and her difficulty breathing was amplified.Still, Pongetti stuck with it for what she said were the first five or six games of Syracuse’s season. She now dons a slimmer mask minus the padding. It’s custom made from a full plaster mold of her face.When the doctors originally showed her what it would look like, they brought up former-NBA player Richard Hamilton, who wore a similar mask the majority of his career after suffering multiple nose injuries.“It’s easier for her to pick up the speed of play,” Wheddon said. “It was much more difficult when she originally broke her nose.”Pongetti will wear the mask the rest of this season and most likely next year as well. Getting hit again is “not an option.”And while she’s in a different position than she expected to be in at this point in the season, Pongetti is making sure to take the situation in stride.“I came into this season wanting to make an impact on this team and make a difference,” she said. “Having a broken nose wasn’t in the plan but I wasn’t about to let that plan kind of slip away.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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