West Virginia happy with progress made during spring
Published: Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 01:06
Without a losing season in its program’s history, the West Virginia women’s soccer team has quietly been the University’s most consistent athletic program throughout the past 15 years.
In fact, the Mountaineers have captured three of the last five Big East Conference championships.
This spring season, however, the departure of six seniors combined with multiple injuries led to many new faces on the pitch.
"The spring is always a good opportunity for a younger team to kind of step up and take some leadership out there. And, for our returners to take charge and help us bond as a team," said assistant coach Lisa Stoia. "Spring is about your development more than anything."
It was a successful spring for the team, as the Mountaineers were able to compete with quality opponents such as Ohio State and Pittsburgh, despite the fact the squad was shorthanded.
"We ended on a very positive note," Stoia said. "The best thing is that from the start of spring to the end, we got better on and off the field, and that’s the most important thing at the end of the day."
Two players who helped lead the young Mountaineers in the spring were forwards Frances Silva and Kate Schwindel.
"Our returning leaders have to put themselves in a situation to challenge themselves and get better every day," Stoia said. "I feel Silva and Schwindel did just that this spring. And that’s exactly what you’re looking for. When they’re setting a good example, it’s contagious with the rest of the team. That’s not just on the field, but in the weight room, too. They’re setting a standard for the younger players."
Although Stoia and the staff were pleased with the spring results, there is always room for improvement. Stoia pointed out one area that needs to grow before the fall season begins.
"Even though our upperclassmen do such a good job, we definitely want more players to step up and be more vocal," she said. "Communication is such a key component to young team."
Next season will be much different for the defending back-to-back Big East champions, as it will be the Mountaineers’ inaugural season in the Big 12 Conference.
A change of this
magnitude affects all aspects of a team, especially recruiting.
"We’re starting to reach out a little bit more with our recruiting," Stoia said. "But, the Big 12 only has nine teams now, as opposed to the Big East. Our non-conference schedule is still going to be very local. So we’re hoping to maintain some momentum in this area in terms of recruiting."
Despite the conference change and the departure of six seniors, expectations remain high.
"We ended on a great note winning the Big East championship last year. Now, looking ahead, it’s a clean slate. We’ve got to go in and prove ourselves," Stoia said. "We’ve got to be ready to roll, because now we’re looking to capture a Big 12 championship."