The Collegian
Saturday, June 25, 2022

Women's soccer to rely on youth after tough finish in '08

The University of Richmond women's soccer team is trying to regain its winning momentum after a disappointing finish to last year's season.

The Spiders started the 2008 season 9-2-1, before losing seven of their last eight games.

"We lost a lot of very good players to injury," said head coach Peter Albright. "We lost some of our mental edge."

The Spiders (1-2) have already faced a tough opponent in their victory against No. 25 James Madison University to open the season. Then the Spiders lost their home opener, 2-1, to Hofstra University in overtime.

The team this year is mostly made up of freshmen and sophomores. Only seven seniors are on the roster of 27 players.

"Preseason went really well," senior midfielder Jen Ruhe said. "We expect big things this season. We expect to get a ring."

The team's speed has increased since last season, Albright said.

"We tried to recruit some wide players and some players up top that would really be able to stretch the game and take a little bit of the pressure off the defense and give us more room in the midfield," Albright said. "They are fun to watch. They can really create problems [for the defense]."

The freshman class has already made an impact. Freshman forward Natalie LeClair scored two goals during her first collegiate game against James Madison and was named the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week. She also had an assist against Hofstra.

The team's youth has changed how the coaches design game plans, Albright said.

"We have a lineup that is predominately freshmen and sophomores," he said. "We want to have a very simple, easy-to-understand, easy-to-assimilate playing style.

"Hopefully, through the course of the season, we can add some things that will make it a little bit more complicated and dynamic."

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The team heads to Farmville, Va., to compete in the Longwood Tournament and will face Charleston Southern on Sept. 4 and Coastal Carolina on Sept. 6. The Spiders play cross-town rival VCU on Sept. 13. A-10 play opens with a home game against Fordham on Sept. 25.

"These [non-conference] games are really important in that they give us a great mirror to look at ourselves and evaluate ourselves," Albright said. "They give us high-quality practice against really good teams that are similar to a lot of the teams that we play in the A-10."

The team will be playing its home games at Ukrop Park in Chesterfield County, about a 15-minute drive from campus.

"It is a spectacular playing facility," Albright said. "It is a really, really great field. I think if we can generate some excitement about men's and women's soccer at the university, people will come out of their way to see us."

Contact staff writer Stephen Utz at stephen.utz@richmond.edu

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