By: Alex Tostado
No. 25 Valdosta State women’s soccer team (2-0) begins its conference schedule this weekend at home against Union University (1-0-1) on Friday evening and Alabama-Huntsville (0-0-2) on Sunday afternoon.
The Blazers are nationally ranked for the first time in its young history.
Head coach Mel Heinz has been working on increasing the confidence of her team as well as keeping them focused as they approach the weekend.
“There are a lot of kids that are having conversations with me,” Coach Heinz said.
“They are not where they want to be… I think the wins helped everybody charge up and want more from what they have been giving.”
Both UAH and UU are coming off rough seasons last year yet Coach Heinz wants her girls to still play their best.
“As much as we are hoping for a cupcake game, it never seems to be the case,” Coach Heinz said. “We definitely have to make sure that if we are the more talented out there that we show it from the beginning to the end.”
VSU beat both teams last season by the same score of 1-0.
Coach Heinz wants to set the tempo early and continue the winning streak by scoring more goals.
“(Union) is a hard working team and I’m sure they are getting better, like everybody,” Coach Heinz said. “We have to make sure we set the tone and rhythm of the game and stay within our play.”
The Blazers want to show everybody that they can compete in this conference.
“Conference games you need to win bigger because anything can happen,” Coach Heinz said.
One thing that Coach Heinz points out is that the Blazers have depth on the bench, unlike last season.
“I think that’s the difference for us from last year,” Coach Heinz said. We probably did not have that depth on the bench and we had to force people to stay out there longer than they needed to. Why not put in fresh strength and let our starters get a good 10 minutes of rest and then halftime and then go again?”
The coaching staff realizes that weekend games are tough to recover from but they accept the challenge of getting the players ready.
“Everybody (in the conference) is playing a Friday game and everybody is playing a Sunday game and that Sunday game is really what brings out the character of your team,” Coach Heinz said. “That’s why we encourage our fitness to be where it needs to be. I think whichever team comes out strong, and can hopefully keep the momentum, will get the win.”
The Blazers enjoy playing in front of its home crowd and have only lost three games at home in the past two seasons.
“Our girls don’t like to lose, first off, and at home they know it’s not allowed,” Coach Heinz said.
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