Silva, Schwindel step up for WVU in spring season
Published: Monday, April 30, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 30, 2012 00:04
Playing without key contributors can make it extremely difficult for an athletic team to progress.
Multiple injuries to members of the West Virginia women’s soccer team have forced the Mountaineers to play many inexperienced players this spring season.
But the absence of impact players such as Caroline Szwed, Bri Rodriguez and Katie Lenz may have been exactly what the Mountaineers needed to prepare for next season.
With the departure of six seniors, including go-to scorer Blake Miller, it was essential for head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown to find her new offensive sparks before the fall.
And Izzo-Brown has done just that.
Freshman Kate Schwindel and sophomore Frances Silva emerged as leaders this spring.
"Both of them have really enjoyed working off each other and understanding the movement," Izzo-Brown said. "I thought both of them have gotten so much better and are on the same page. It’s been really fun to watch what they’re doing on and off the ball."
Silva was second on the team in points last year with 20 and Schwindel, the defending Big East Conference Rookie of the Year, was third with 19.
Both were behind the graduating Miller.
But their progression this spring was more about becoming leaders than scoring goals.
"Obviously, Frances knows her role and how that has to change. She’s ready for that going into being a junior," Izzo-Brown said. "I told them (Kate and Frances) the things that both of them can do together. It’s kind of a really exciting opportunity for them to focus on that. I definitely think Frances wants to step up into that role and understands that."
Senior Blake Miller finished her career fifth all time in both goals and points in program history. Replacing her is a tall task.
"When you lose Blake (Miller), other people have to step up," Silva said. We (Schwindel and I) played with each other a year. We knew we needed to step up. We worked on it all spring and definitely started to get it toward the end of spring."
Izzo-Brown believes there are a lot of similarities between the freshman Schwindel and the senior Miller. In fact, the veteran head coach feels Schwindel is a little better now than Miller was after her first season as a Mountaineer.
The biggest difference?
"Blake was an extremely technical player, so fast with the ball at the feet," Izzo-Brown said. "But, Schwindel is so fast when she doesn’t have the ball, too, and that’s the difference. Blake didn’t have that type of speed."
Schwindel was fortunate enough to learn from the talented Miller last season.
"She (Miller) was definitely a great role model. I learned a lot from her last year," Schwindel said. "I’ve got to score some goals like she did for us."