By Julie Brown for MSNsportsNET.com
August 13, 2010
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – For senior forward Megan Mischler, the summer seemed to fly by. Maybe it felt that way because of the new practice facility that she knew would be ready in time for the 2010 season, or maybe it was because a college athlete’s senior season can often be the most memorable and rewarding.
Either way, she wasted no time preparing herself for fall camp.
“I really worked out hard in the weight room this summer,” said Mischler. “I didn’t miss any lifts. I wanted to be strong because I’m kind of small and I really have to keep my strength up. I also worked on my shot and my touch.”
Mischler was able to gauge just how much her shot and touch had improved when fall camp opened at the new state-of-the-art women’s practice facility a little more than a week ago. The facility includes a 75-by-120 yard natural turf field, and plans are in the works for construction of locker rooms on the premises.
“I love this field,” Mischler said. “I came out this summer a few times by myself with a bag of balls and had the whole field. It’s probably one of the best facilities in the country now - it’s a state-of-the-art facility. Last year we had to share a field with the men’s team but now it’s strictly us, which is pretty nice.”
Along with the new facility comes a new theme for the season.
“This year we came up with 303, which is on all of our jersey numbers added up together. It means all of us have to be all in it together, all focused. Everyone has their role on the team so we have to work together, and if one person isn’t doing their job then we have to pick up the slack,” Mischler said.
This new theme will be instrumental in helping the team reach their goals for the season. Last year the Mountaineers reached the semifinals of the BIG EAST tournament before suffering a 1-0 loss at the hands of Marquette. The team still qualified for the NCAA tournament, however, where they were able to reach the second round before falling to Wake Forest by a score of 3-0.
“Those experiences are going to help us,” said Mischler. “They’re not experiences we really want to have, so this year we’ve made it a goal to host the beginning of the BIG EAST tournament and the beginning of the NCAA Championships. That’s one of our main goals, to play at Dick Dlesk as much as possible.”
Another area the team had trouble with last year was goal scoring. Although the team finished 9-6-6 overall with a 5-3-3 record in the BIG EAST, seven of those games were won by one goal. Five of the team’s losses were by one goal as well.
“Our scoring last year was below average by our team standards,” said Mischler. “We only had 22 goals for the whole team so our aim is to score at least 30-35 goals. We need to score a lot more to win those close games so that we know what to do when it comes to the playoffs.”
Mischler has experienced success as the team’s leading scorer for the past two seasons. She’s already started off the 2010 preseason by scoring a goal in WVU’s exhibition match against Indiana on Tuesday night. In 2009, she led the team with five goals, three of them game winners. In 2008, she led the team in scoring before suffering a broken fibula against Connecticut that ended her season.
“I want to be able to score more than six goals this season,” Mischler said. “That’s something that will help the team. I’m a forward so I have to score.”
Playing to team strengths will help support these ambitions. Although still early in training camp Mischler has already seen good things from the squad overall.
“Our team came into camp as one of the fittest teams we’ve ever had. Our fitness level is great, almost everyone made their fitness tests, and that enables us to strictly work on soccer and concentrate on skills instead of running,” Mischler noted. “Also, everyone seems a lot more focused this year, there’s a different attitude on the field and everyone’s really driven to win a championship.”
Team unity and chemistry can often play a large role in the success of a team as well. It can sometimes be hard for freshman players coming in to feel comfortable practicing with a new team, but the squad has done everything they can to help the newcomers adjust.
“I think it’s still really new for them,” Mischler said. “They’re still learning the system and seeing how everything works and I think everything was a big shock to them at first, I know it was for me when I was a freshman. As the days go on I can see them getting better with each session. They’re really focused too and we’ve been helping them.”
As for it being her last season as a Mountaineer, Mischler has set her sights on some special goals of her own.
“I want to score more than six goals, and even though I’ve already accomplished a BIG EAST championship, I want another one. And I want to go farther than the second round in the NCAA tournament. I’ve been to the Elite Eight, and I want to get back there,” she said.
The Mountaineers will travel to Wake Forest on Aug. 14 for their second and final exhibition match of the season before taking on Penn State in their season home opener on Friday, Aug. 20.