Doue, West Virginia seniors look to go out on top
Published: Thursday, August 23, 2012
Updated: Thursday, August 23, 2012 05:08
For the last three seasons, the eight seniors on the West Virginia men’s soccer team have entered the season with the common goal of bringing home an NCAA cup.
And, for three seasons, they’ve come short of that goal.
Now they’re preparing to enter their final season as Mountaineers with a chip on their shoulders and expectations to go out with a bang.
"I don’t know if it’s urgency because they know they don’t have much time left or if it’s just confidence in what they can do, but there’s definitely something different there with that group of seniors this year," said West Virginia head coach Marlon LeBlanc.
"These guys know how close we’ve been and how good we have the chance to be and they’re just chomping at the bit to get out there and prove they can do something big this season."
This group of seniors, most of whom have been key contributors and starters since they were freshmen, have combined to start 241 career games.
The impact they’ve made doesn’t just stay on the pitch. LeBlanc has repeatedly applauded how much they’ve been able to do in the last three seasons to help bring more attention to the men’s soccer program.
But it does help that they have emerged to become arguably the deepest and most talented senior class in the program’s history.
"Sometimes you just know, and we had a feeling when we were assembling this recruiting class that it had a chance to be special," LeBlanc said. "If you look at the past couple of years, we’ve had some big wins and then a letdown way too many times. We need to find that consistency and I think this group has the kind of guys who can really step up and take charge and make sure those things don’t happen anymore."
Through their four years with West Virginia, this senior class has helped turn the program into a team that is consistently ranked in the top 25 and has made appearances among the nation’s elite teams in the polls.
With that, it’s changed expectations around the team.
Instead of just being happy with NCAA tournament appearances, they think they’re ready to make a run at the title.
"When the stakes are high, these guys show up," LeBlanc said. "We view the regular season the same way Tiger Woods views getting ready to play in a major tournament. It’s just a systematic way of getting ourselves ready to compete and make a run in the NCAA tournament."
Senior defender Eric Schoenle, who has been a constant on the WVU back line since he started all 18 games of his freshman season, admitted heading into their final year brings a little added pressure to accomplish all of their goals.
"We know this is our last shot to really make our mark on West Virginia soccer history," Schoenle said. "We’re going to do everything in our power to make sure people remember us."
They may be a year older, and they may be running out of time to get it done, but that main goal will remain the same for the seniors.
"We’re gunning to be the best ... We want championships," said senior forward Peabo Doue.
"I don’t want to leave this place without a championship."