An Inside Look at the 2002 Women's Soccer Team
Hokies' co-captain Kathy Holdsworth talks about the upcoming season
August 27, 2002

BLACKSBURG, Va. - After nearly two weeks of preseason training, the Virginia Tech women's soccer team's season opener is quickly approaching. The Hokies officially kick off the 2002 season Sunday, Sept. 1, in an afternoon match at No. 7 Notre Dame.

Looking ahead to the 2002 season, Tech will play the toughest schedule in the program's 10-year history. Not only do the Hokies face the seventh-ranked team in the nation in their opener, but they will also face No. 10 Florida State (Sept. 13) and No. 17 West Virginia (Oct. 23). In addition, Tech enters its second season in the BIG EAST Conference, arguably the toughest women's soccer league in the country.

The Hokies had a taste of the action Saturday, Aug. 24, when they hosted an exhibition match at Moseley Field against Colonial Athletic Association foe George Mason. Tech cruised to a 5-1 victory in its lone preseason action.

Junior co-captain Kathy Holdsworth (Sarasota, Fla.), who contributed one goal and one assist in the preseason match, took some time out to sit down with and discuss the upcoming season by answering the following questions:

Q: The obvious goal of any team's preseason training is to prepare for the on-field competition. However, with 12 freshmen on this year's team, are there any additional challenges to prepare for the season this year?

KH: The first couple days we concentrated on getting to know all the new freshmen, since there are 12 of them. We have been doing a lot of team bonding activities to try to get us all on one page. It's gone pretty well. At this point, I definitely think we have more team unity than we had in the past and that's important. With team unity, playing together comes (as a result). We will want to play harder for each other and the benefit of the team, not just ourselves.

Q: In the off-season, what were some of the things you did to prepare for the upcoming season?

KH: Every single person on the team ran a lot to get ready for the season. Every year we do our three-mile run at the beginning of preseason. Everybody stepped up in the off-season to prepare for that and we have had some of the best results in the program's history this preseason. A lot of people came back before preseason and that helps because we can work out together and play together to help get a jump-start on the season.

Q: The opening game of the season is against one of the best programs in the country, Notre Dame. When you look ahead to that game, how do you approach such a challenge so early in the season?

KH: That game will definitely set the tone for the season. We are going into the game hoping to get a win, as we do with any other game. Most importantly, though, we are looking to play hard, give them a good fight, and show that we belong in the BIG EAST. ·Regardless of the outcome, you always try and find the positives so you can continue to build on that and get ready for the next game.

Q: This year's schedule is arguably considered the toughest schedule in the program's history, playing three teams ranked in the preseason top 20. In addition, you open the season with seven straight road games. Does that present another challenge for the team to overcome?

KH: We have always played well on the road. Our team will be able to continue to become more unified. You room together, eat all your meals together, and get to spend more time together. Naturally everyone becomes closer. We always get excited about playing on the road, especially at a place like Notre Dame, because you know they will have a huge crowd.

Q: Now that you are a co-captain, how has your role on the team changed?

KH: Last year we had so many upperclassmen. We would always look up to them and ask what should be done in a certain situation. This year, though, the younger players are all looking to us. It is kind of a switch in roles, but we are ready for it. Even with only two seniors on the team, we still have a lot of people with experience. We have a huge junior class as well as a big freshman class, which helps balance things out a little bit.

Q: On Saturday in the exhibition game you had the opportunity to play as a team in a game situation for the first time. What were you able to take away from that game?

KH: To be honest, we didn't really expect to win that game, 5-1, because George Mason is a pretty good team. That was an important win for us, though, because we got everybody into the game. All the freshmen got into the game and got experience under their belt. With the start of the season so close, that was very important because now the people who haven't played before won't be as nervous. Also, we have a new system this year. It gave us a chance to play within that system and become more familiar with that.

Q: Last season was the first year in the BIG EAST, one of the toughest conferences in the country. How do you learn from that experience and help prepare for conference play this coming season?

KH: More or less, we have been tagged the underdog in the BIG EAST. That makes it a little easier for us to be motivated for each and every game. We go out and play looking to prove something: that we belong in this conference · One of our goals this year is to play hard every game and not have any let downs.

Holdsworth is expected to play a major role in the Hokies' offensive attack this season from the midfield position. She finished the 2001 season with three goals and one assist and finds herself at the center of the Hokies' offensive attack for 2002.

Tech opens the season with seven straight road games, including weekend tournaments in Charlotte, N.C., and Miami, Fla., before its home opener on Tuesday, Sept. 24, against Liberty.