Swanson's Club Set To Start Season
Aug 21, 2009
Chantel Jones and her Cavalier teammates eye more success in 2009. (Photo courtesy of Jim Daves, Virginia Athletics Media Relations.
Coach Steve Swanson is quick to recognize the youth of this year's team, but remains optimistic about the outlook for the season. The young Cavaliers face a tough schedule, and Swanson hopes that playing against the best will allow his team to see and adjust to their own strengths and weaknesses. Acknowledging the adjustments the team has already made, Swanson says, "The nice thing for us as coaches is from the Friday game at Notre Dame to the Sunday game at Georgetown, with only a video session in between, they made dramatic improvements." Swanson attributes the quick improvements to the team's hard work, and hopes the work ethic will help carry the team through their challenging schedule.
"I think emphatically, I can say this has been a tremendous group and what we lack in experience we make up for in their effort," Swanson says. "I feel good about where we are. It's always hard when you lose as many players as we did in one season and as much experience. I'm excited about the team and I'm excited about our prospects. We have a very difficult schedule. My hope is that we're going to learn some things here early and hopefully that will help us down the road."
The inexperience of this year's roster did not cause the Cavaliers to downsize their season goals or alter their style of play. The ball-control, team-oriented style of play seen under Swanson in previous seasons will continue with this new roster. One key to success for this young team is developing defensively and, with so many new names on the roster, learning to play with each other. And in terms of season goals? "As long as I have been here, and as long as I'm here, we have basically in terms of outcome goals, we're here to win an ACC Championship, and we're here to win an NCAA Championship," Swanson says. The tough regular season schedule against some of the best teams in the nation will help prepare the Cavaliers for postseason play.
Hoos To Watch
A few key players will also help lead the Cavaliers through a successful season.
Sophomore goalkeeper Chantel Jones returns to the team after missing last season to play for the U-20 World Cup team. She will help anchor the Cavaliers' new back line.
"As hard as it was to lose our four players, it's equally as exciting to have someone back with the strengths that Chantel Jones has," Swanson says. "She understands the game, and I think that's important for our team at this point in time because we need her experience. We need her to help run and organize the back line. She's taken on more of a leadership role, which has been great to see. I think she's matured in several different ways, and I think her best soccer is ahead of her. I'm very excited about the potential that she has down the road and excited that she's here for a while."
Named to the preseason Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy watch list, junior midfielder Sinead Farrelly has generated buzz in the preseason. The award is given to the nation's top player. Swanson says, "I've had an awful lot of very good midfielders here at Virginia, but Sinead is special and could be one of the best. Her talent is immense and just having her out in the middle of the field will calm things down for us."
The Home Games
The Cavaliers' home schedule includes games against Liberty, Hofstra, West Virginia, Seton Hall, American, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Florida State and Miami; the home opener is slated for Friday, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. against Liberty. The key match-ups are with West Virginia and Virginia Tech as the Cavaliers suffered losses to both teams last season. "There are a lot of good teams that are going to come to Klockner as usual," Swanson says. "And the nice thing about Klockner is that we've done well, we've had some success here at home. I think a lot of that has to do with our fans, they are such a great inspiration for our team and it's such a great venue to play in."
Lacking experience, the Cavaliers still have several key ingredients for a successful season. Players like Jones, Rostedt and Farrelly can provide the leadership and experience to allow the young team to compete toward their season goals. If the Cavaliers continue to improve as they already have in the preseason and continue to step up to the challenges of their schedule, it could be another strong season for the team.
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