WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The UNCW women’s soccer team opens their regular season tomorrow they officially turn the page on their eventful offseason.
Paul Cairney is out, Chris Neal is in. The change has been difficult on the team, but the outlook is bright.
“After all, we have been through a lot these past couple months. With Chris stepping in, you can already tell that we’re coming together as a family and as a group of sisters.”
The process to turn this group of women into a family did not happen over night.
When new UNCW women’s soccer coach Chris Neal was introduced, he knew building trust with the members of this team was his first priority. Now just before the season begins, he feels the team is created in the image they want to be part of.
“We’ve talked a lot and spent a significant amount of time in the preseason basically giving them ownership and they built what they wanted their team culture to look like. They built what they wanted a good teammate to look like and they’ve taken complete ownership of that.”
Another part of building a new team is working with a new staff. For Junior Baley Edwards, it’s a staff that did not recruit her.
As a Wilmington native, she said she wouldn’t want to play anywhere else. But knowing that Coach Neal didn’t recruit her while he was coaching at Elon only motivates her and her teammates more.
“Since they didn’t recruit me, it just pushes me harder to work for something that they want and just to become a better player in general. Wherever I play I just want to be the best in that position. I think that for everyone on the team that wasn’t recruited by him, it’s the same too.”
If that doesn’t motivate them, a low ranking in the CAA Preseason Poll might.
UNCW has a lot to prove and overcome in 2018, but Coach Neal does not hesitate with his confidence.
“We’re focusing on the process right now. When we get to CAA play, it’s very simple, we expect to win. That’s the goal. For now, we want to get better every single day we step on the field. We want to win the next game. But they’re focusing on the process at this point.”