MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University athletic director Oliver Luck was in Portland, Ore. last week to make a presentation to Major League Soccer’s Technical Committee outlining proposals to shift the Division I men’s college soccer season to a full academic year.
A different dynamic operates in the women’s game. College resources and facilities have allowed the United States to win two World Cups and four Olympic gold medals since 1991. West Virginia’s roster features three players currently competing for Canada at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup with 18-year-old center-back Kadeisha Buchanan tipped to star in next year’s senior tournament.
Still, Mountaineers’ head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown believes there is enough merit in the men’s proposals to warrant serious consideration on the women’s side.
“Every women’s coach will tell you that playing Friday then Sunday is not good,” Izzo-Brown told The Soccer Observer in an interview at WVU’s Dreamswork Field training complex.
“You can’t develop your team as much as you would like.”
West Virginia played 23 competitive games in three months last season en route to lifting the Big 12 Conference regular-season and tournament titles. They faced eight weekends with Friday-Sunday double-headers and a Big 12 tournament involving three games in five days.
Injuries were a common occurrence during the campaign with midfielders Kara Blosser, Bryce Banuelos and Ali Connelly all succumbing to season-ending ACL injuries.
“You have to step back and think ‘Why are we doing things this way?’ “ Izzo-Brown said. “Everything has got to evolve.
“What the men are definitely bringing to light is something for everyone to think about.”
The plans presented by Luck aim to improve student-athlete recovery and development while modernizing men’s college soccer to keep up with the game’s growth at other levels within the U.S. This involves spreading the season over the fall and spring semesters with the NCAA College Cup staged in June rather than December.
Izzo-Brown agrees with the concept while suggesting that the women’s season could benefit simply by moving the first competitive game to the first weekend in August to add another three or four weeks to the schedule.
Senior forward Kate Schwindel was another wounded Mountaineer last season. The All-Big 12 first team honoree took a heavy knock to her ankle in the opening exhibition game. She struggled to regain her fitness throughout the congested fall period and eventually lost her battle when a right ACL injury sustained in WVU’s regular-season finale ended her year.
“It’s hard playing Friday night and then turning around to play those Sunday afternoon games,” Schwindel told The Soccer Observer.
“What they’re drafting up might help to reduce injuries.”
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