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The Virginia women’s soccer team is in the midst of a week-long training camp in Traverse City, Mich. to prepare for the upcoming season. The Cavaliers host Georgetown in an exhibition at Klckner Stadium on Monday, August 18 before opening the regular season on Friday, August 22 when they host Loyola (Md.). caught up with head coach Steve Swanson this week to discuss training camp and the start of the season.

Question: You are a week into training camp. So far, how is camp going?
Answer: Our pre-season camp has been very productive so far. We did some testing at the beginning of the week to assess where our fitness level was at and as a staff we are happy with the results. We still need to improve in this department as pre-season unfolds, but overall the team did a good job of preparing themselves during the summer. We have worked hard on the fundamentals this first week and also on trying to introduce our first-year class to our system and the way we play. We still have a great deal of work to do but so far we have pleased with the energy, focus and development of our team to this point.

Question: For the fourth consecutive year, and the sixth time in the past eight years, you are doing a week of camp in Michigan. What benefits do you get by going there for camp?
Answer: From a physiological standpoint, the cooler weather allows us to maximize our short time together for the pre-season. Simply we can do more over a shorter period of time in Michigan, given the weather and our location. We are also fairly isolated which also helps in terms of building a team and getting to know one another off the field. And the other benefit is playing an opponent like Notre Dame where we know we will be tested.

Question: You have two exhibition games coming up (vs. Notre Dame in Michigan and home vs. Georgetown) against teams that were NCAA Tournament teams last year. How are these exhibitions going to help prepare for the start of the season?
Answer: Both of these games will give us an opportunity to test our team in all three phases of the game, defensively, offensively and in transition. We could not ask for better competition and hopefully the caliber of these teams and the games will give us a good idea of what we are doing well at this time and what we still need to work on over the course of the next week or two as we prepare for the regular season.

Question: Last year’s team featured the best defense in the country, leading the nation with a 0.40 goals against average. You return three senior starters from that team (Nikki Krzysik, Alex Singer and Sarah Senty), but lose Becky Sauerbrunn (graduation) and Chantel Jones (U-20 National Team Duty at the World Championships). How do you adjust to those losses in the back?
Answer: Like every year, we have some challenges to tackle as we prepare the team. Losing Becky to graduation and Chantel to National Team duty will test us but we would like to believe we have players that will step up and do a great job for us especially on the defensive side of the field. Nikki, Alex and Sarah thankfully have a great deal of experience and so do Alli Fries, Celeste Miles and Amanda Stewart. We also have some solid young players and an excellent group of incoming recruits. We are confident that if called upon all these players will do a tremendous job in filling the voids left by Becky and Chantel.

Question: How much does the attack benefit from the return of Jess Rostedt, who missed almost all of last season due to injury?
Answer: When Jess went down last season we definitely lost one of our best playmakers and goal scorers, so having her back will be a huge help for us. She is the type of player who causes problems for any team at any level defensively and she can make things happen very quickly. She is still nursing a knee injury but we are very optimistic that we will have her back in the side soon. Jess is one of those special players who has the ability to make everyone around her better.

Question: What type of soccer should fans expect to see this year from the Cavaliers when they come to Klckner Stadium?
Answer: We have always tried to play the kind of soccer that any fan would enjoy and appreciate. We try to play with skill, as a team and at speed with a strong emphasis on getting numbers forward in attack and on moving the ball. It is the kind of soccer that every player enjoys playing and it relies on the entire team having the ability to handle the ball under pressure.

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