The opening matches of the women’s soccer team marks the beginning of the Spartans athletic semester. The team’s late August matches are the first competitive games for any university team in months. A 2-0 exhibition victory over Campbell University on Aug. 12 kicked off the season for the blue and gold, as well as prepared them for their first match of the year against the nationally touted Florida State Seminoles. In a sitdown interview, head coach Michael Coll talked about the opening match against the Seminoles.
“I want our team to show a very big time competitive edge, and I want them to be proud of their performance” he said. “We’ve been talking about this a lot as far as the vision for this game, so I want us to be very good, and I want people in the stadium to say that’s a very good UNCG team.”
Unfortunately, the women fell in their season opener 3-0 at Florida State. Coach Coll acknowledge the difference between the teams.
“Of course we’re outmatched, this is one of the national favorites, but we want to play well and compete very difficult, very hard.”
Last season’s UNCG soccer team ended the season with a 7-11-2 record overall, going 4-4-1 in Southern Conference play. This year’s squad earned a No. 4 ranking at the dawn of the season. Coach Coll talked about the difference between last year’s team and the 2017 team he has.
“Well, we are deeper in our squad. We got more competition in all of our positions. Our team’s strength is our comradery is a real strong point of who we are,” Coach Coll said. “And our experience is greater, our incoming kids are a nice addition to the things he already have so all those things should lead, hopefully, to a good season.”
Also, the coach talked about the preseason rankings and whether they have any effect on himself or the team.
“No, no it doesn’t. It’s nice to be recognized by the other coaches in the conference, but preseason rankings don’t impact us much. Both as coaches and as players, they’re just there,” he explained.
Aside from the addition to new players on the field, the soccer team also added a new face on the coaching staff. August began with the hiring of Stefani Workman as the new assistant coach, focusing her skills on the goalkeeping for UNCG. Workman had recently spent the past two years as an assistant at the University of Dayton and was the head coach from 2010-2014 at DII Concord University. Coll talked about Workman’s influence on the team in her short time.
“It’s been great. She has got a tremendous experiences as a coach at the Division I level plus she was also head coach at the Division II level.” He then talked about her role here on the team.
“Players like her, she’s got a very specialized role here as a goalkeeper coach because that’s an extremely important coach to have to really make that smaller group of players in that unit better. So she’s got a very important role, and she’s a tremendous hard worker, reliable and has experience she can share with our players.”
“Gabbi Charles is now recognized; she’s a preseason first team possibility, chosen by the coaches. So she is going to have an even bigger role because the other teams have identified her as someone to be of note and planned for when they play us.” The coach also spoke highly of another one of his players.
“Also Cienna Rideout, I’m pretty confident that she is maybe going to be double teamed a lot because she was a very good forward for us last year. I’m sure teams will want to nullify her speed and composure when she’s in goal scoring areas.”
The women will open up their home season tomorrow when they face off against the Phoenix of Elon University. The match will start at 7 p.m. Following Thursday’s home opener, the blue and gold will host the Clemson Tigers on Sunday at 6 p.m.