In sports, the name “Rocky” is more than just five letters.
Penn State women’s soccer coach Erica Walsh called her “Rocky” one of the best technical players in the world, and she has not fallen short of the hype.
Raquel “Rocky” Rodriguez joins the No. 4 Nittany Lions as a five-year veteran from the Costa Rican National Team program and has three goals and two assists in 11 games for Penn State.
In Tuesday’s 3-1 victory over Bucknell, Rodriguez experienced a career first — coming off the bench.
Rodriguez started every game she played in this season except for the Bucknell win. Although coming off the bench is new to her, she embraced it.
“I just try to do my best in whatever the staff asks me to do,” Rodriguez said.
Bucknell played physical defense early, but their aggressiveness eventually resulted in a penalty kick opportunity for the Lions in the 38th minute.
The Lions have experimented with different players taking penalty kicks all season, but after entering the game in the 30th minute Rodriguez was the go-to player, putting Penn State up 1-0.
“I just try to do my best whenever they ask me to do a certain role,” Rodriguez said. “If my role is to take the penalty kicks then I am going to try my best to do it and it feels good.”
Because Penn State is in the midst of seven-game stretch in 16 days,Walsh has emphasized proper rest for her players.
“[Rodriguez] came off the bench and scored a goal immediately. I mean what more can you ask out of a bench player,” Walsh said. “I couldn’t define her role any better tonight than to come off and impact the way she did. I am completely impressed with a player who has arguably never sat a minute on the bench in her life.”
Having hardly spent a minute on the bench in her entire career, Rodriguez says that from the bench, she is able to see the game more clearly.
“It is definitely different [coming off the bench]. From outside you can see a little bit better, a lot more clarity of the game,” Rodriguez said. “It is different. Today I learned how to observe and just how to take on a different role. It is a different experience and I just try to learn from every game.”
With her observations from the sidelines, Rodriguez was able to play to Bucknell’s weak aspects that would have perhaps been overlooked.
“I realized that we have to play more to [their] feet, be calm and put nice balls over the back line,” Rodriguez said.