The 18 returning players on the GW women’s soccer team are ready to finish what they started.
After a loss to Rhode Island in the Atlantic 10 Tournament semifinals last year ended their first postseason run since 1998, the Colonials said they will now look to go one step further by winning the conference championship and earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Senior Caite Terranova said she is sure her team can accomplish that goal, since most of the group now has experience in pressure situations.
“Last year we went undefeated at home and lost in the semis of the tournament,” she said. “This year, we are more talented and have more experience. We plan to win game after game until we make it to the NCAA tourney.”
GW Head Coach Tanya Vogel, a former GW player and member of the GW Athletic Hall of Fame, said she will rely on her experienced upperclassmen to lead the team through a schedule that includes several top-ranked teams before A-10 play begins.
“Last year’s ending was a wake-up call, a kind of enlightenment,” Vogel said. “They saw that they could compete with the best. The men winning the A-10 (Championship) was an inspiration and it was great that they did it. We want to do it now.”
And for the seven seniors, now is the last chance they have to do so.
Leading the pack is fifth-year senior and 2002 A-10 Offensive Player of the Year Kim Warner. After three successful seasons and a trophy case worth of awards, she was a 2003 Preseason All-Conference pick. She enters her final season as GW’s third all-time leader in points (64) and goals (28).
Vogel said Warner leads by example more than with just her words.
“Kim isn’t always vocal, but she picks her moments to speak up,” she said. “I look to her to help her coach and teach her teammates. From her, all I need is her maximum work ethic and her ability to carry the responsibility of leadership on a daily basis.”
Warner will not have to carry the burden of leading the team alone, though, as she has several other talented upperclassmen that will add depth to the field. Seniors are prominent at every position, and have been the backbone of the team for four years.
Vogel said that her veterans’ leadership skills will be the key to her team’s success this season. While the elected captains are senior Jamie Olson and junior Kelly Lawten, every single player will be expected to take some role in guiding the team, Vogel said.
“Every other year we had issues,” Olson said. “But we’ve learned from our mistakes. We want a winning team without conflict, and we’ll do what we have to do to succeed. We’re up to the challenge, we want to make it to the NCAAs.”
This season will mark the final year of Vogel’s first class and the players said that a special bond and sense of accomplishment has formed between them and their coach over the years.
“We all started together,” Olson said. “Our coach started with us our first year. Looking back, I can say that we did it. We brought the program to where it is today.”
Along with the older players, the rookies are starting to find their places in the mix. Vogel said the four freshmen and one sophomore transfer are improving every day.
“I’m happy with how they have done,” she said. “We have a quality team, so it is hard for them to break into a starting position and get playing time.”
into a starting position and get playing time.”
One of these freshmen has already done that, however. After scoring a goal and assisting on two others in GW’s opening game against Toledo, Sarah Sample was named A-10 co-Rookie of the Week and is now in the starting lineup.
Olson gave the freshmen credit for their valuable contributions to the team so early in the season.
“The five girls have already proven to be great assets to the team,” she said. “The girls bring a lot of energy and creativity to the team and force us all to raise the bar and push ourselves.”
After beating cross-town rival Georgetown last week, Vogel said her team is right on track but must continue to work hard to keep it that way.
“We have to have a constant effort,” she said. “What we need to do is maximize our potential in every match. If we do that, we’ll be in best position. It would be great to be 3-0, but 2-1 is good for now.”
Olson said it is important for each player to maintain focus and to keep up the high level of motivation.
“We need to take each day as it comes,” she said. “I don’t want to have regrets.”