The Virginia women’s soccer team hosts Ohio State in the round of 16 of the 2010 NCAA Tournament on Saturday. Game time at Klöckner Stadium is 2 p.m. Virginiasports.com talked to sophomore midfielder Julia Roberts to discuss the team’s opening round wins over Lehigh and South Carolina and to preview the matchup with the Buckeyes.
Question: Last year, your first NCAA Tournament experience was three games on the road. What has been different this year being able to host NCAA Tournament games?
Roberts: Definitely being able to play at Klöckner is an advantage for us. We are used to playing there. It is also a large field, which is good for our possession style of play. The other advantage is just being able to be home, where you are in a normal routine. You don’t have to worry about travel and you can have a consistent schedule.
Question: For most of the season you play two games a week. Does anything change now that the tournament is one game a week?
Roberts: It is a little bit different. I think the anticipation is building for Saturday and we just want to get to the weekend as soon as possible. Only playing one game helps in that we have more time to train and prepare. A lot of the time when you have two games in a week, you can’t train too hard because you are constantly recovering for a game or preparing for the next.
Question: After the disappointment of losing the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament, how important was it to bounce back last week with two 3-0 wins over Lehigh and South Carolina and build some momentum as the NCAA Tournament progresses?
Roberts: It was huge. Even against Lehigh, we didn’t feel like we played as well as we could. But against South Carolina we got back to playing good soccer. We showed a little bit of the potential that we have. It was important for us to get that confidence back because we were disappointed with how we played in the ACC Tournament.
Question: You scored a goal in each of the first two NCAA Tournament games. Do you feel like you are playing your best soccer of the year at the most important time?
Roberts: I think everyone on our team is doing that. We are starting to peak as a team now. Our practices have been great and that is carrying over into games. We all know that every time we take the field now, it could be our last game of the season. For the seniors, it could be their last game of their career. Because of that, we are all focused on playing our best soccer of the year right now, both individually and as a team.
Question: Looking ahead to Saturday, what are you expecting from the matchup with Ohio State?
Roberts: No matter who you play, when you are in the round of 16 of the NCAA Tournament you are going to have a tough opponent. We know we are going to have to be ready to play at our best in order to be successful. We have been learning about Ohio State as the week goes along. We haven’t played them in a while, so it will be fun to play against another new opponent.