This week the Virginia women’s soccer team concludes the regular season when it plays a pair of crucial ACC games at Klöckner Stadium. The Cavaliers (7-5-4, 2-4-2 ACC) need a pair of victories against Florida State (Friday at 7 p.m.) and Miami (Sunday at 2 p.m.) to assure themselves a berth in next week’s ACC Tournament. Virginiasports.com caught up with senior forward Amanda Stewart to discuss this week’s games along with looking back at this season and her career.
Question: As you enter the final week of the season, it is almost as if you are already in postseason mode because of the need to get results to make the ACC Tournament. How important are these games against Florida State and Miami?
Stewart: These next two games are going to decide our season, so they are the most crucial games of the year for us. Everyone is really focused and we know how important it is to play well in these games. We just need to take it one game at a time and hopefully we can get two good results. That way we can make the ACC Tournament and also the NCAA Tournament.
Question: The team has been in a situation where you need to get a result from every game for the past couple of weeks. How much confidence can you take from last week, when you got a critical win at Duke and an important tie at Wake Forest?
Stewart: It gave us a lot of confidence. I think we have been playing well and last week we were able to two results against Duke and Wake. Hopefully we can carry the momentum from last week into this weekend. Those games gave us the confidence that we can beat anyone if we play well, so we are just trying to use that this weekend.
Question: Does it help to have these final two regular season games at home, a place you haven’t played in three weeks?
Stewart: Absolutely. It is huge that we are playing at Klöckner. We love playing at home and hopefully we will get a couple of big crowds. That helps us so much. There is a lot of energy when we play at Klöckner and we feed off that. A chance to play these crucial games at home in front of our fans is a great opportunity for us.
Question: On Sunday, it will be Senior Day for you and three of your teammates. As you look back at your career, what are the games and memories that stick out to you?
Stewart: One of the games that sticks out was our last home game, a few weeks ago. We needed a result against Maryland and trailed late and we were able to tie it with one second left. As I look back over my career, it isn’t particular games that really stick out. It is just the seasons as a whole. We have had a lot of success during my career and we have had a lot of fun. I will be sad when it is over and I will miss this team a lot.
Question: The other thing that is this week is Halloween. The team usually has a lot of fun with Halloween, wearing costumes to practice every year. What are some of the highlights of pervious years and are you planning anything for this year?
Stewart: In the past, we have had practices where the team has worn costumes, including the coaching staff. One year, Coach Swanson was “Scuba Steve” and wore a wet suit, which was really funny. Bill (Parente), our trainer, always has a funny costume. This year, we have a pair of games on Halloween weekend, we aren’t going to be able to dress up for the game. Maybe we can put on the costumes after the game on Friday. And if that is after a win, it will be a lot more fun.