This week the Virginia women’s soccer team returns home to open a three-game homestand. The Cavaliers play Richmond Friday night at 5:30 p.m. Virginiasports.com caught up with junior goalkeeper Chantel Jones to discuss the start to the season and preview this week’s game.
Question: You played a pair of overtime games last week at the Penn State Invitational, tying Penn State and defeating Connecticut. What did you take from those games in terms of learning about your team this early in the season?
Jones: Each year you definitely see the impacts that the early games of a season have later on. It really matters what you do before you get into the ACC, especially facing teams like Penn State and UConn, which have historically been really good teams. Coming out with a win and tie was really key because it puts us in a good position and gives us confidence going into the next games.
Question: Opening a three-game homestand, what are the keys to this stretch of games in terms of preparing for ACC play in a few weeks?
Jones: I think the key for our team is to really believe we can do it. Playing well in these games give us confidence moving forward. We have all the skills and all the talent we need to succeed, but its just being able to believe we can win and put the goals in the net.
Question: In the first two games of the season, you didn’t need to make a save. In the last two games, you have had to make six saves each. How do you transition from one extreme to the other in the amount of action you see?
Jones: That’s what (assistant coach) Kerry (Dziczkaneic) helps us in practice prepare for. You could have no action the whole game then have to save a penalty kick late, so it really comes down to practice because that’s when goalkeepers can hone their skills. In games, you’re not supposed to have a lot of saves in a game, so in practice you go through every scenario to be ready. Kerry D. has really helped me with that.”
Question: The back line in front of you has been changing this season, with a different starting lineup each game. Last year, you had basically the same group in front of you every game. How have you adapted to that and helped them come together as a unit?
Jones: I think it is good for us that we have so many backs and we can change according to who we are playing. That makes us even more dangerous, because it is harder to scout us because you don’t know who is going to be back there. I think all of our defenders are great. They’re so coachable, they’re willing to listen and they’re just great athletes.
Question: This week you only have the one game. Are these lighter weeks a chance to do more in training?
Jones: When you get into two games a week, its hard because you can’t really have a tough practice because then you have a game in the next day or so. I think having a game on Friday and not having another game until next Friday, we can really take what we need to work on from the past couple games and hone in on it, and have some tough practices before we get into the conference season.
Question: What are you expecting from Friday’s game, not only from playing Richmond, but also from playing a doubleheader with the men as they open the season and raise their championship banner?
Jones: I think having the men’s game after ours is going to help us because there’s so much excitement with their program, and we want to follow in their steps and do the same thing. It is tough playing other teams from Virginia because we have a huge target on our backs. We know we are going to get Richmond’s best shot, especially with the tough game we had against them in the spring. It is going be really exciting and it is always fun to play doubleheaders with the men because the atmosphere at Klöckner is great.