by Stephen Case – Staff Writer – firstname.lastname@example.org
The UNC Asheville women’s soccer team is ready to be taken seriously in the Big South Conference.
“We are at a place in the program where we are going to compete with any team that we step on the field with,” said Head Coach Michelle Demko.
Demko is in her third year as head coach of the women’s soccer team. She said this will be a rebuilding season of sorts. She feels this squad has the ability to reach the next level of competition, but there will be growing pains.
There are 11 freshmen on this year’s team. These underclassmen have and will play major roles in determining the success of this season, and they say they are up for the challenge.
“I’m excited for this season because I think we all are really motivated and pumped to start rebuilding this program,” said freshman Bria West. “I hope that, as a team, we will continue to push each other and strive harder and harder every day to become the team we want to be and know we can be.”
Last season ended in a loss to the No. 1 ranked team in the conference on penalty kicks and showed they can play with anyone. This attitude may not be reflected in the win column this season, but the two opponents they have faced so far have noticed, Demko said.
The Bulldogs lost both of their games 2-1, with the last game to East Tennessee State ending in double overtime. Demko said there is a lot of potential in the team. They are just a game away from establishing themselves as a legitimate threat.
The main goal for this season is getting back to the Big South Tournament, Demko said. Demko feels that a blend of veteran leadership and youth are going to be the catalysts pushing them closer to obtaining their goal.
“No longer will teams cruise to a win against us, they will have to earn it,” junior Erin Ryan said. “More importantly, we are incredibly close with one another and feel very comfortable with one another. There is also a lot of leadership which comes in two ways: verbal and people leading by example.”
With all of this young talent in the trenches, these ladies know exactly where to look for leadership: the seniors. Demko is extremely pleased with the leadership roles the seniors have taken to guide these young players to success.
“I think respect is the biggest component of team chemistry and success,” senior Ferriss Roberts said. “As far as I’m concerned, no one player is more superior than anyone on the team. We have been there as freshmen before, so we know what it’s like. It is important not to overlook what every player has to offer.”
Demko stresses attention to detail.
“The returners are going into their third year with me, so everyone knows what the expectations are,” said Demko. “It’s about helping to bring those freshmen along with everybody else. We are expecting this to be a rebirth of the program.”