Virginia's womens team, Hydra, has been one to watch the past few years. The team returns to the College Championships for the first time since 2004. Building the team back to this level has been the outcome of much hard work, and this team has been doing it every season since I've been playing. To see how far this team has come is remarkable. Co-captains Devon Ericksen and Shannon McVey give some insight to the team that is making the return to the big show, and about the process that took them there.
You guys have had to rebuild your program. Tell us a little about that process and the role you've played.
Our program has seen tremendous growth in the last two years. In 2008, we had a huge rookie class that has grown into a strong and talented core of vets. Coupled with taking on Dan Perry as a coach, the team began the building process. Dan coached Hydra for two years, and working with captains Brittany Taylor, Alex Weinberg, and Hannah Green, he set us up to do big things. In 2010, James "Shoes" Burke and David Allison took over as coaches, working with captains Shannon McVey and Devon Ericksen to continue the tremendous growth of the previous two years. This growth is due to the dedication of the captains and coaches, as well as the team's enthusiasm and hard work.
What are some of your favorite moments from the 2011 season?
Centex was a whirlwind of excitement for our team this year. It was a testament to how much we have grown not only in terms of skill, but in terms of mental strength. In our first year attending in 2010, our nerves held us back and we finished the weekend with only one win. A year later, we channeled any nerves we had left into positive energy, and that really shined through in every game, as we played competitively with some of the top teams in the country. Finishing in 12th place after coming in seeded 21st, we proved that we could compete on the national level.
How does it feel to go to Nationals for the first time since '04?
It feels like all of our hard work is finally paying off. Earning that third bid for the AC region was a tremendous feeling, and following through to make it to Nationals feels even better. Hydra had set its sights on Nationals ever since watching the UVA men's team, Night Train, compete in Columbus in 2009. Sitting on the fields in Columbus, Hydra decided to make Nationals a goal. Two years later, we've reached that goal, and couldn't be more excited.
How did Regionals go? Anything special or noteworthy?
Regionals was exciting, nerve wracking, and satisfying. We knew what was at stake, but took the weekend game by game, never mentally getting ahead of ourselves. An exciting part of the weekend was playing UNCW in the semis. Seaweed is fast and athletic, but we played with a level of heart that was not reflected in the final score. Especially exciting to watch was rookie Mary Kelly dominate in the air against some of UNCW's most talented players. Sunday's biggest challenge, however, was playing Maryland to take us to the game to go. Maryland is a talented team who tested us mentally and physically. After a rough first half of trading points, we slowed the game down in the second half and found our flow, taking the game 15-8. The game to go against NC State was fun to watch and fun to play in. Abby Clement set the tone with a layout D in the first point of the game, and our offensive flow led by Maggie John's skilled throws as a beautiful sight to see.
Any injuries sustained at Regionals? Any personnel losses or gains?
Hydra had the misfortune of losing captain Shannon McVey to a knee injury after Regionals. Shannon is a talented and versatile cutter whose presence will be sorely missed on the field.
Taking any precautions or special preparations for nationals?
We are taking extra care to get acclimated to the altitude by holding practices in Boulder on Wednesday and Thursday.