This week the Virginia women’s soccer team travels to the ACC Tournament, held at the WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. Virginiasports.com caught up with sophomore goalkeeper Chantel Jones to discuss the challenge of making this year’s tournament and to preview the championship.
Question: For much of the season, the team was in a situation where it might be in danger of not making the ACC Tournament. Over the last two weeks you have gone on a run to make the tournament as the No. 7 seed. What does that performance say about this team?
Jones: It taught us that we are capable of playing with anyone in this conference. Last week we beat Florida State and they are the No. 1 seed in the tournament. We got a win at Duke, which is always a tough place to play on the road. It means we can do anything in this tournament if we play our game. That is a big positive for us and gives us a lot of confidence.
Question: Coach Swanson has mentioned that this team has been playing in ”postseason mode” for a few weeks now. Do you think that playing with the pressure of “must-win” games recently will help now that you are in the postseason?
Jones: Seeing how well we performed under pressure over the past four games is a big positive for us. There was a lot of pressure on us the last four games where we knew we needed results to keep our season going. In those games we went 3-0-1 and beat some really good teams. Now that we are in the real postseason, the ACC Tournament, I feel really confident because I know we can win under that kind of pressure.
Question: The big question for the team coming into the season was how the defense would play after graduating four seniors from the back line and having you return after missing last year due to international duty. Over the past four games, you have posted four shutouts. Has this defense come together like you imagined?
Jones: I am really proud of the defense. We have worked really hard all year. They have all been willing to learn and have listened well to what I have tried to tell them and they have really come together. They are doing a great job.
Question: With the quality of the teams in the conference and the parity the league has shown this year, what kind of ACC Tournament will we see this week?
Jones: I think it will be one of the craziest tournaments that the ACC has ever seen. The league has always been strong from top to bottom, but this year it has been even better. Some of the results have been wild and really every team is capable of beating every other team. It is going to be a really good tournament and any of the eight teams in it are capable of winning it. It is going to be a lot of fun.
Question: You open the tournament Wednesday against Boston College. In the regular season, you lost 1-0 in overtime on the road against them. What are your thoughts on the rematch?
Jones: The thing is when you lose in overtime, you don’t get a chance to come back and respond, so this is our opportunity to do that. We played really well against them the first time and had some good scoring chances. Hopefully we can capitalize on those chances when we get them on Wednesday. We have a lot of confidence in how we are playing right now and feel good as we head to Cary.