The future is bright for the Virginia Wesleyan University women’s soccer team. Coming off a season where the Marlins finished 12-6-3 (7-0-3) and received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament after falling in the ODAC Championship to Washington and Lee, the Marlins are ready to come back stronger. Ranked third in the ODAC Preseason Poll and boasting a great deal of squad depth, the ladies are fired up for another season under Head Coach Jeffrey Bowers.
“We love our team, we’re going to get better and better,” Bowers said. “They’re hardworking kids, and they’re going to do well.”
Bowers is hoping to inject some new life into the team this year with the addition of 15 freshmen to the roster. This depth will provide a solid base for the team in the event of injuries or suspensions, and will give Coach Bowers a lot of options when it comes to selecting his preferred lineups. Coach Bowers will look to his five All-ODAC selections from a year ago in First Team selection Zoe Traficante, Second Team selections Alexia Vassiliadis, Marli Hayward, and Ann Marie Moffett, along with Third Team selections Taylor Chapman and Ryan McCurry.
After a very difficult start to the season, and suffering losses to Catholic University and Trinity University, which is ranked #5 in the nation in the first United Soccer Coaches poll, the team is looking forward with a positive mindset. Senior Zoe Traficante explains “our record does not accurately reflect how we’ve been playing. We have been doing very well as a team and will start getting the results we’ve been working for.”
The loss to Catholic was in the very first game of the season, a tough 4-0 affair. The ladies’ next opponent came in the form of Trinity University from Texas.
Ranked #5 in the nation, the VWU side managed an admirable feat, only suffering a 2-1 loss to the Trinity Tigers. Traficante said, “Our team talent level is the highest it’s been in years. As compared to last year we have greater skill, faster players that allow us to be more dangerous on the attack, and more depth.”
An improvement came against Christopher Newport University, with whom the Marlin ladies tied 2-2. CNU came off the back of a 6-1 victory over Catholic, so it looks as though the VWU side are hard at work on the training ground.
The girls’ most recent game against the Methodist University Monarchs ended in a lopsided Marlin victory with a final score of 9-1.
Making sure the team stands together is the most important aspect for Traficante.
“Our motto is Y. N. W. A., you never walk alone. This is how we play. We win as a team, lose as a team, play well as a team, and stand out as a team.”
That seems to be the case; the group is beginning to gel on the field, but with such a large group coming into the team, there is always going to be some deficiencies which need to be ironed out.
Senior Maddie Sanders said, “There is still a lot we need to work on as a team, we are still all learning each other’s playing styles and strengths and weaknesses, although we are headed in the right direction.”
With home games against Salisbury, Meredith, Randolph-Macon, Randolph, Bridgewater, Emory & Henry and Washington & Lee, fans of the Marlins have something to get excited about this fall.
“We’re excited about them,” Bowers concluded. “I think there’s a lot of talent, so hopefully We can just keep getting better by working hard. It’s a good group.”