The No. 7 Virginia women’s soccer team hosts the Virginia Nike Soccer Classic this weekend at Klöckner Stadium. The Cavaliers will look for their 15th tournament title, their fifth in a row, as they play Washington State on Friday at 7 p.m., and Penn State on Sunday at 2 p.m. Virginiasports.com talked to junior midfielder Julia Roberts to discuss the team’s start of the season and to preview the tournament.
Question: Through the first six games of the season, the team has scored 26 goals to lead the nation. How have you been able to be so productive offensively?
Roberts: It comes from the fact that we have so many impact players and really anyone can score at any time. We have 13 players who have scored a goal this year, which is just a ridiculous number at this point of the season. We have had defenders scoring, in addition to the midfielders and the forwards. Our attack is unpredictable and that makes us really hard to defend.
Question: You have had a goal or an assist in four of six games this season. Have you consciously tried to get more involved offensively?
Roberts: I have just tried to start each game with a good mentality. I try to pick the right times to get forward into the attack. We have some great forwards, who are able to possess the ball and keep possession. That allows Morgan [Brian] and I to get into the attack more and that gives us more opportunities to score from midfield.
Question: Last week you posted shutouts against Arizona State and Drexel. After giving up a goal in a few of the early games this season, what adjustments were made to solidify the defensive end of the field?
Roberts: We have tried to have a little more discipline, and we are trying to sharpen the communication on the field. That starts in practice and carries over into the games. We are each trying to take responsibility for our one-v-one defending in addition to our team defending. With so many new players on the field this season, it was going to take a little time for us to get to where we want our defending to be.
Question: The midfield has changed a lot with three starters graduating last year. How has this year’s group come together as a unit?
Roberts: There is definitely a different feel out there. Every group of players has their own personality and I think we are playing a little different style than last year. During the preseason, we focused a lot on getting to know each other and how we play individually and as a group. With each game we get more comfortable and that sense of where everyone is going to be on the field grows.
Question: This week you play Washington State and Penn State in the final two non-conference games of the season. How important is it to get two good results this week and continue your momentum heading into the start of the ACC season next week?
Roberts: This is going to be a big week for us. These games will be two of our toughest non-conference games this season. We have never played Washington State, so we are learning about them right now. Penn State is always a great challenge. We have had some great games against them recently, all at their place, so it will be nice to play them at Klöckner. We have a lot of confidence in how we are playing right now and want to keep that going.