Local Foursome Set to Lead Virginia Women’s Soccer to Another Successful Season
The days get shorter, warm days and cool nights, leaves to rake – staples that signal autumn is near.
And then there is women’s soccer at the University of Virginia.
The third-ranked Cavalier’s, under legendary Coach Steve Swanson (15th season), are coming off a College Cup Final 4 appearance in 2013. This year, along with reigning Player of Year and US National team standout Morgan Brian back for a final season, expectations are as usual high in Charlottesville.
But there is more to the Hoos than the multi-talented Brian, much more, as a foursome of tri-state soccer products will be counted upon to play an integral role for UVA as they seek another shot at a national championship in 2014.
Most noticeably senior Danielle Colaprico (Freehold, NJ/Red Bank Catholic) is perhaps the Cavaliers most versatile player.
Swanson is fortunate to have a player like Colaprico who can play forward, control the pace of play in the middle and on occasion can defend with the best in the country.
“Danielle can use either foot and is great in the air,” noted Swanson.
Colaprico takes all the set pieces to boot – corners and directs. “I am certain Morgan (Brian) would agree with me on this,” as Swanson measured his words, when asked after his team defeated Richmond to improve to 2-0. “Danielle is our most versatile player and I consider her to be one of the top five players in the country.”
Most observers would concur with Swanson’s assessment as Colaprico is on the watch list for the Hermann Award (NCAA Women’s Player of Year).
Colaprico expects to play professionally after her final season but defers that discussion to focusing on her senior season and helping her team take care of business on the Klockner Stadium soccer pitch.
“Our experience last year at the College Cup provides us motivation this year,” noted Colaprico, after directing her squad to a commanding 4-0 win over Richmond on August 29.
Colaprico has also been named a preseason All American by Soccer America and Top Drawer Soccer.
Another New Jersey native that returns this year is Brittany Ratcliffe (Williamstown, NJ/Paul VI), junior striker who set a Cavalier goal scoring record, with 11 goals off the bench in 2013.
Ratcliffe’s role is different this year as she is in Swanson’s starting eleven.
“For sure getting the start is different,” said the junior. “Last year off the bench you had the benefit to see how the match was flowing.
“With the start you need to be ready to go right from the first whistle.”
Ratcliffe showed her goal scoring prowess as she found the back of the net for two second half goals in the Richmond win.
Swanson feels that his striker has improved quite a bit from her sophomore season in Charlottesville.
“Brittany is so quick and skillful,” noted Swanson. “She is much more efficient and confident with her runs on the field; tremendous upside.”
Kristen McNabb (Montville, NJ/ Montville Township) is the final New Jersey product that is a welcomed addition to Swanson’s defensive unit.
McNabb returns to the lineup after suffering through a series of ACL injuries that held her out of the team’s final seven games last year, including the College Cup.
“We really missed her at College Cup,” Swanson said. “Kristen is so solid, poised, tough and confident; all the qualities necessary to be a terrific defender.”
After a summer devoted exclusively to her rehab effort, McNabb has found herself back in the defensive limelight.
“It’s great to be back, I’m fit and excited to play,” said a confident McNabb. “No anxiety, just the frustration of not being able to be on the playing field.”
The final member of the foursome is Tina Iordano (Upper Brookville, NY/ Friends Academy) a transfer from Vanderbilt University. The 5’10’ sophomore has made an immediate impression on the coaching staff earning the start and a ton of playing time in the team’s first two games.
The Wahoos are poised for another serious run at the national championship and they can thank Colaprico and company for making that a possibility.
You’ve heard of the Jersey Boys but how about these Jersey Girls – plus one!
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