The No. 8 Virginia women’s soccer team concludes a four-game homestand this week as it hosts Duke on Thursday at 7 p.m. and Wake Forest on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. VirginiaSports.com talked to senior defender Kika Toulouse to look back at the first part of the ACC season and to preview this weekend’s games.
Question: What can you learn from a disappointing overtime loss, like the one against North Carolina, to help improve for the remainder of the season?
Toulouse: As Steve [Swanson] said yesterday in our meeting, North Carolina is the top-scoring team in the country right now. They average three goals a game, and we held them to no goals in regulation. Unfortunately, we couldn’t keep that going in overtime. We saw that we played well, and especially defensively, and we’re starting to find our groove and get more solidified. We’re just taking the positives away from it and hopefully we can move forward from there.
Question: The last two games have gone into overtime, and the one before that, against Maryland, went right down to the wire. Are these the types of games that prepare you for the post-season in terms of pressure and level of play?
Toulouse: Absolutely, definitely with the pressure and everything that comes with overtime. Also in terms of our fitness; for people that are starting and people that are coming off the bench, helping them to get some big minutes is really helping us out, especially going into those overtimes.
Question: This is a big weekend coming up, with all of the alumni from the first 25 years of the program coming back and being honored. What does it mean for this team to see all of the previous players come back who helped build the program to the level it is now?
Toulouse: It’s really exciting because you come to Virginia knowing that there’s such a big tradition of strong performances on the soccer field and in the classroom. It’s just exciting to see all of the players who came before us and helped establish that tradition. They really laid the foundation for something that we are so proud to be a part of.
Question: You are coming off your first home loss, and protecting your home field is something that this team takes a lot of pride in. With two home games this week, how important is it to bounce back and get two results?
Toulouse: It’s essential. We feel that we play some of our best soccer at Klockner. We feel like, having the home field this week, we need to get wins, we need to get some momentum going so that we can carry it on into our away games and have the confidence to play well away from Klockner.
Question: What do you need to do this week to be successful against Duke and Wake Forest?
Toulouse: We really need to focus on being tuned in and ready to play. In the past, both teams have always gotten scrappy goals against us. They’re going to fight for 90 minutes, so we need to be prepared to do the same. We need to make sure that we’re finishing our chances offensively and just being together and communicating defensively to hold them to no goals. We need to come out strong like we did against Boston College and be consistent for 90 minutes.