#6 Virginia Women's Soccer 2012 Preview

Virginia Cavaliers

Overall Rank: #6
Conference Rank: #4 Atlantic Coast Conference
Virginia Women's College Soccer 2012 Team Preview
Virginia Team Page


The Virginia Cavaliers come into the 2012 season fresh off another strong run to the quarterfinals of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, losing a tough road contest against conference rival Florida State. The Cavaliers will be without head coach Steve Swanson and midfielder Morgan Brian for the first couple weeks of the season as they will be off with the U-20 national team at the FIFA World Cup in Japan. The Cavaliers have one of the best home field advantages in Klockner Stadium as they averaged over 1,000 fans a contest last year and it is arguably one the best settings in all of college sports nestled in the heart of the Virginia athletic complex.

2011 Record: 17-5-2, 7-2-1
2011 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Steve Swanson

There are couple virtual guarantees with a Steve Swanson coached team. They are going to be very entertaining to watch in the attack as their possession style of soccer is among the best executed styles of play in the sport. They can light up the scoreboard with anyone. Senior Caroline Miller led the Cavaliers with 15 goals in 2011 and she returns to lead another very balanced offensive attack from the forward position. Morgan Brian, a sophomore midfielder will also be looking to build on her very successful freshman campaign as she scored 11 goals and had eight assists enroute to earning the Soccer America National Freshman of the Year Honors in 2011.  Senior Erica Hollenberg is the leading returner in the assist category as she had 10 in 2011, and her playmaking ability to set up Miller and others will be a key to Virginia’s success in the attacking third. Defense is also a staple of a Steve Swanson run program. The Cavaliers last year only allowed 19 goals in 24 contests.  Sophomore Olivia Brannon will be counted on heavily to anchor the backline early while the goalie situation gets addressed for the Cavaliers.

The goalkeeper position is going to be a fun battle in preseason camp as Chantel Jones, a stalwart in goal for the Cavaliers, graduated in 2011. The early projected leader to succeed Jones is Danielle Delisle, a junior who was the backup during all of 2011 but did not see any game action for the Cavaliers.  The offensive productivity on the road is going to need to improve for Virginia in 2012 if they are to get to the College Cup in San Diego. The Cavaliers only scored two goals in seven games away from Klockner Stadium last season as they were 2-4-1, including the one neutral site game in the ACC semifinals in Cary, NC. The ability to improve this will be very important to the Cavaliers success in 2012 in their quest for home-field advantage throughout the postseason. The ability to score on the road is an absolute difference maker in a team’s ability to get to the College Cup

Final Projection:
The Cavaliers are a very talented squad and have a non-conference schedule that should be very conducive to building a lot of momentum heading into the heart of the ACC schedule. Penn State comes in to Klockner Stadium and should give Virginia a good test in the opener. The trip to Austin will be intriguing to see how Virginia handles that environment, especially with their attack. It will be a great showcase to show off the program on the Longhorn Network nationwide. If Virginia can get the same type of production from Miller and Brian as they did in 2011 and can solve the goalkeeper situation quickly, I would suspect Virginia will be in position for a high enough seeding come November that they should have home-field advantage for the majority of the NCAA Tournament. One key scheduling change by the NCAA Tournament that should aid Virginia if they had to travel for an NCAA Quarterfinal is that the quarterfinal round will be pushed back to the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  This should help ease some of the travel challenges Virginia could face having to travel from Charlottesville instead of a major city like Washington DC and so forth. Virginia should finish in the upper half of the ACC and be its usual strong threat to get to San Diego and the 2012 Women’s College Cup.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Tournament

Returning Leaders:
Goals: Caroline Miller, Senior, F, 15
Assists: Erica Hollenberg, Senior, F/MF, 10
Shots: Morgan Brian, Sophomore, MF, 103
Saves: None

Madness 2012 Women’s Soccer Recruit Rankings:
#12 Makenzy Doniak
#18 Emily Sonnett
#23 Brittany Ratcliffe
#36 Kristen McNAbb
#103 Jessie Ferrari