The latest guest on New England Soccer Journal’s “The Goal” podcast is Wesleyan women’s soccer head coach Eva Meredith.
Meredith is entering her 19th season at Wesleyan, and last year the program made history.
The Cardinals finished the 2021 season at 18-2-2 and advanced to the Final Four of the NCAA Division 3 tournament. Wesleyan set new program records in every major statistical category, including wins, NESCAC wins, goals, assists, points, shots, shutouts, unbeaten streak, win streak, and did so while playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in team history.
Wesleyan will open the 2022 season on Sept. 7 against WPI. Meredith discussed last year’s memorable run and how the program continues that momentum into this coming season.
The full podcast can be accessed here and is available on all major platforms. If you enjoy it, please leave a rating and a review.
Here are some highlights from our discussion with Meredith.
On if she knew during last season that it was a special team:
Meredith: “I did. If you would’ve asked me if I said we’re going to make it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time and go all the way to the Final Four? No, I wouldn’t have said that. But I knew the year before COVID that there was something really great developing within this group, as far as talent and leadership, because remember, we have to have both. So the fact that we could continue during the shutdown, if you will, to train and develop them and this is what happened. They were excited to play again.”
On the playing style she prefers:
Meredith: “I joke sometimes and say ‘as long as you score one more goal than the other team,’ right? So I guess that makes me an offensive-minded coach. I think that with the athleticism that we had, in not just three forwards, but, like, two layers — almost six players — you can rotate. We play in a 4-3-3, so you could rotate the three forwards with another three that are as good as the first three. You can instill and you can implement a high press game, and that’s what I thought we did (last season). We really like to win the ball high up the field and go to goal if we can.”
On if she always saw championship potential at Wesleyan:
Meredith: “That was my hope when I came here 18 years ago. However, it’s taken much longer because of the commitment it takes and the difficulty of the academics to get players accepted that are great players and great students. I think we’ve found a much better balance in the last, I’d say, five or six years. I’ve had an assistant coach for the first time that can help out with the recruiting, and then our athletic director that came aboard, Mike Whalen, is also someone who wants success.”
On being ranked fourth in the national top 25 to begin the coming season:
Meredith: “I smile sometimes when the rankings come out, because they start the way they ended, so you end the year fourth, you start the year fourth. I think for me as a coach, leading a group that had such success, it’s to just take it day-by-day, step-by-step. It’s the process. If we start to look ahead and we measure everything to last year, I think that we can be in for some disappointments. So, I think for this group, yes, expect things and also realize that there will be external pressure and expectations.”
On the main objectives for the team before the season starts next month:
Meredith: “Get everybody on the same page. It’s important — we have (new players coming in) and I think that we have a system, we have a formation, we have a style. We can plug them into that. I would be silly to sit here and say we’re going to change everything — why would you when it worked? But we also have to be more willing to tweak some things, because, like you said, we’re not going to sneak up on anyone. We’re not going to surprise anyone. So, what do we do if things aren’t going the way we wanted them to? We need to have a better backup plan this year than we’ve had. I can’t tell you what that might mean. But that’s important to our preseason, to be able to not just continue to perfect our system, but have another one that we can go to, should we feel that it gets stagnant or things aren’t developing the way we want.”
For advertising opportunities, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.