Women’s Soccer Season Opener Against VCU Postponed By Snow
In the months since the ASUN announced in August that it would be postponing the fall 2020 season, LU’s women’s soccer team has been patiently waiting to return to action.
Due to the global pandemic, the ASUN conference decided that fall teams would instead play in the spring. This meant that student-athletes would wait over a year in between seasons before finally returning to the field.
The Lady Flames were slated to begin their season against VCU Feb. 7, but with rumors of a snowstorm predicted to hit Virginia that day, a season that has so often felt in jeopardy was delayed once again – this time by weather instead of a virus. Two days before the cancellation, Head Coach Lang Wedemeyer described his emotions regarding the weather concerns.
“There’s a little bit of skepticism like: ‘Is it really going to happen?’” Wedemeyer said. “You’ll probably hold your breath until that first whistle blows and the game kicks off.”
The journey to this season has not been easy. Players continue to be tested, praying that none of the tests come back positive for COVD-19.
“You just keep praying that everyone is going to be healthy enough to keep playing on the field,” Wedemeyer said.
However, the players focus on viewing everything that has happened this past year with optimism, in spite of the disappointment and uncertainty of an unusual season.
“It’s all been a mindset, you can get frustrated or you can create it as an opportunity to get better,” junior forward Kasey Jamieson said.
Jamieson has experienced some trials of her own after suffering an injury during the offseason. She originally planned on playing in the fall anyway, but the postponed season allowed to her have surgery and play at full strength in the spring.
In order to have a successful season, the team must emphasize team bonding. In the stresses of a pandemic, positive reinforcement from teammates is crucial – and with social distancing protocols, connecting with teammates is not always easy. One player who knows firsthand the importance of encouragement is freshman Favour Spear, who redshirted last year.
“It’s definitely been a long road,” Spear said, describing the long absence she has had from playing because of redshirting and the postponement. “But with my teammates and coaches encouraging me, it’s great to be back. I’m able to help my other teammates going through the exact same situation.”
Although Liberty is ranked seventh out of nine teams in the ASUN preseason poll, Wedemeyer believes the team is ready to compete and will not settle for anything less than total commitment to the team. Wedemeyer said that during the fall semester, the team competed in 60-minute scrimmages amongst each other. In several of those games, the intensity (measured by sprints, physical contact and field covered) ranked higher than any full-length 90-minute game against actual opponents in 2019, according to Wedemeyer.
“The level of intensity and effort, there’s a different mentality with this group (this year),” Wedemeyer said.
“The biggest thing we’ve talked about is just being the toughest team in the country,” Jamieson said.
With such a long time off the field, the Lady Flames are ready to start their season, and regardless of how the season progresses, merely playing soccer feels like a victory for the team.
“If we just get on the field and play, all of it will be worthwhile,” Wedemeyer said.
“We’re all really excited,” Jamieson said. “I think we’re all just ready to go out there, show what Liberty soccer’s about and get a (win) on Sunday.”
The Flames game against VCU was postponed due to inclement weather, but they began their season against the Rams Feb. 8.
Christian Shields is a Copy Editor .