One of West Virginia’s women’s soccer top returners heading into the 2014 season is senior forward Kate Schwindel.
Schwindel served as a forceful counterpart to Frances Silva, the team’s superstar forward who is now playing in the National Women’s Soccer League. But with Silva absent, Schwindel will be asked to pick up where she left off.
Silva scored 15 goals last season. Schwindel, however, still managed to net 11 goals before tearing her ACL in the team’s only conference loss against Texas Tech.
“She definitely did a lot for us and we’ll never have another Frances Siliva.” Schwindel said. “She did so great. It adds a little more pressure on us because we know we have to live up to everything she did, but then again I know we have the right people to add to more success.”
Schwindel was forced to watch from the sidelines as her team went on to claim the Big 12 championship and make their 14th straight NCAA appearance.
“It was definitely tough,” she said. “Our team stepped up big time and I knew they could win that Big 12 (Championship) and I was proud of all of them. It’s just kind of hard for me, seeing them win all that, but obviously I was going through surgery and stuff.”
Head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown said she recognizes the importance of having one of her top players back for this season.
“It’s so important,” Izzo-Brown said. “You know back in the day when we were in the Big East, Schwindel was the rookie of the year, and being first team all-Big 12 and doing all the things she’s been able to throughout her career, it’s critical.”
Schwindel was named to the all-Big 12 first team and her 28 total points earned her third in points in the Big 12 and second on the team.
Schwindel said she’s back to top-form. She admitted it was a tough road to recovery, but she feels healthy heading into the 2014 season.
“(I’m) definitely feeling a lot stronger,” she said. “I’m getting my confidence back, definitely not an easy last nine months but I’m feeling stronger and just getting my confidence up and getting back on the ball.”
Not only will she be looked upon as a top player for the team, but she will have to embrace the role of a leader.
“I think it’s something I’ve worked on over the years,” she said. “We lost some big-time seniors last year. I needed to step up in that role and be more vocal when usually I’m kind of more reserved.”
Schwindel will look to lead the Mountaineers into another strong season. As reigning Big 12 champions, the pressure will be high, but as a seasoned player, Schwindel is up for the challenge.
“It’s not going to be easy,” she said. “But, we know we have that pressure and we’re going to have to work hard for it.”