ASHEVILLE, N.C. (April 4, 2019) – Fieldhouse recently caught up with Asheville City’s women’s soccer’s director of operations, Stacey Enos. Last year, Enos served as both the team’s first-ever head coach and its director of operations. She previously was the athletic director and head women’s soccer coach at Warren Wilson College and was a national champion as a player at the University of North Carolina. She was also a member of the inaugural US Women’s National Team from 1985-1987.
The interview was conducted at Asheville City’s 2019 launch event on March 28 and was edited for length and clarity.
On 2019 Management
Last year, I was the head coach and also the director of operations, so my focus was to get us off the ground. I’m excited to serve as the director of operations this year and we’ve hired Lisa-Marie Woods to coach. She played in Norway and was a player for us last year. It’s a good opportunity for us to bring her back in.
She’s done a lot of coaching; she’s currently out at Creighton as the assistant right now and she’s just got a great soccer mind.
On Last Year’s Inaugural Campaign
We lost one game last year (the Blues went 8-1-1 in 2018) and it knocked us out of the tourney. That was hard. Wearing my director of operations hat, we worked with the WPSL (Women’s Premier Soccer League) quite a bit and some other teams in our conference and we’ve now created two divisions.
So this year we’re going to have a playoff (for the Carolinas Conference). It serves a couple of purposes. It keeps players invested in the team throughout the summer, particularly if they’ve lost a game they won’t put their heads down and want to go home. We’re building some rivalry but we’re also keeping players invested and it’s the right way to go about a summer league playoff structure.
On the 2019 Roster
We’ve been working hard to bring players back. So we have people coming back like Parker Roberts from Florida. Unfortunately, Brooke Bingham tore her ACL playing spring ball at UNC and so she’s out. My focus has been to fill some roles and we feel we’ve accomplished that goal and we’re going to take the field with good personnel.
We have five really unbelievable high school players, we have college players, and we have players that have played pro at the highest level and have kind of retired now and they want to keep playing, but they don’t want to keep playing at the level that’s required professionally. So it’s a good balance; I think it’s a good mentoring system. It’s a really incredible opportunity for the youth to be on the pitch with some of these players.
[Warren Wilson College head coach and 2018 team member] Lydia Vandenbergh is expecting her first child in about a week; we’re going to register her and she doesn’t have to take the field until she’s really fit. So she feels like by the end of June she could be ready. She has a great chance to be a mom and also a chance to get fit.
Our roster is pretty set but we would take a couple of exceptional players still. We lost a player from Central America to her national team just this week so that’s opened a spot. The World Cup is happening this year and so rosters shift and if you get people called up, you’ve got to be ready to go and we support that. That’s our whole focus.
(Note: the finalized 2019 team roster will be available here.)
On the AC Women’s Team’s Structure
We’re amateur only. Basically, if a player has played professionally, then they need to go through a transfer back to amateur process because we don’t pay players. What we do provide is housing, and we can provide travel expenses for when we’re on the road. That way we can tap into some college players. We have host families who can help with housing, so it works out.
Our focus has always been to help create a second tier that’s going to feed the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) and to be a viable option for players that don’t get picked up in the pro ranks or don’t go abroad.
We’d like to help create a really good base for the U.S. system.
On the Team’s Style of Play
We want all of our players to be comfortable with the ball, no matter what the situation and Lisa-Marie has really bought into that mentality. We want them to be critical thinkers in whatever situation they’re put in. So, we really try to keep the ball on the ground and play an attractive style of soccer and not a kick-and-run game. We press but we really try to impress upon players that we want the ball to go through the midfield. We want people to touch the ball.
Lisa has bought into that and it’s a style of play for her and for our players to solve on-the-field situations if they need to check off. We were playing Beaufort (County FC) last year and I subbed Lisa in and she tactically saw what other players couldn’t see. It’s her mindset. She kind of poached between the lines and broke down the defensive line and gave us an attack which goes back to some of our philosophy – we want players to solve on-field situations.
On the AC Academy Program
We have an academy program we’re starting and it’s free. We’re really trying to address the pay-to-play mentality and we’re also trying to get players to love to train.
I think Lydia, Meghann [Burke] and I love to train. Unfortunately, we’re currently in this reward system of games, games, games. But we value being at practice and pushing yourself.
You have to get players to change their mentality. You become a player in training, not in games. I think the games help you distinguish yourself. But we all believe in the training. So that’s the focus of the academy and we can also use it to pull players up if we need. Roster tryouts for the team are on April 20.
On Being Part of the Asheville Community
We’ve been working with the neighborhood association (near Memorial) and really trying to be good stewards and be respectful and have things in place and hire parking attendants. We try to not impede residents in their progress in and out; we want them to come home and we hope they come to a game, too.
We definitely have good interest and we picked up some players and more international players, which is good. We have a good roster returning from last year and coaches are calling us, so it’s healthy. It feels right and we’re excited and looking forward to getting going.
I think the greatest thing that Asheville City has is its fans and the environment. People want to come play with us.
The Blues open their 2019 schedule on Friday, April 26 at 7:00 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.
Coming up: Asheville City’s men’s soccer preview