Asheville City Women’s Soccer Preview

Asheville City Womens Soccer One
Asheville City soccer returns to Memorial Stadium this year (photo T. Flynn)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (April 2, 2019) – Fieldhouse recently caught up with Asheville City’s women’s soccer team director of operations, Stacy Enos. Last year, Enos served as both the team’s head coach and director of operations. She previously was the head women’s soccer coach at Warren Wilson College and is a former national champion at the University of North Carolina and an inaugural member of the US Women’s National Team (1985-1987).

The interview was at Asheville City’s opening event on March 27 and was edited for length and clarity.

On Her New Role and a new Head Coach

My focus last year was just to be the head coach and get us off the ground. So I’m excited to serve as the director of operations and we’ve hired Lisa-Marie Woods. She’s played in Norway and she 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 out at Creighton as an assistant right now. She’s just got a great soccer mind.

We were playing Beaufort County F.C. 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 the philosophical belief, we just want to be this source of growth for players to solve on-field situations.

On a New Playoff Structure

Last year, we lost one game and it knocked us out of the tourney. That was hard. Just 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 created two divisions (within the Carolinas Conference).

So this year we’re going to have a playoff. It serves a couple of purposes. It keeps players invested in the team throughout the summer. Particularly, if you’ve lost a game, they then don’t put their head down and want to go home.

So 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.

Asheville City Womens Soccer Two
A frequent scene at Memorial Stadium in 2018 (photo T. Flynn)

On This Year’s Roster and Team Structure

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 kind of accomplished that goal and we’re going to take the field with good personnel.

Lydia Vandenbergh is having a baby 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 fit. She has a chance to be a mom and also a chance to get fit.

We have five really unbelievable high school players and we have college players and we have players that have played pro at the highest level. They’ve 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. 

My roster is pretty set. We would take a couple of exceptional players. 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 and 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.

Our team is amateur only. 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. 

So it’s a good balance, and I think it’s a good mentoring system.

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 create a really good base for the U.S. system.

001 Asheville City Soccer
The Blues went 8-1-1 in their first season in 2018 (photo T. Flynn)

On the Asheville Environment

I think the thing that Asheville City has is the fans and the environment. People want to come play with us. We’ve been working with the neighborhood association and really trying to be good stewards and be respectful and have things in place and hire parking attendants. Really try to not impede our neighbor’s progress in and out. We want them to come home and we hope they come to a game, too.

On the Team’s Style of Play

Our mentality is that we want the women’s game to evolve. We want all of our players to be comfortable with the ball with their feet, no matter what the situation. We want them to be critical thinkers in whatever situation they’re put in. So, 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-Marie has bought into that and it’s a style of play for her and for people to solve on-the-field situations if they need to check off.

On the 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 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. We can pull players up if we need. Roster tryouts for the Academy are on April 20.

Word of Mouth on the Team

We’ve definitely have had good hits and picked up some players, and more international players which is good. We have a good roster returning from last year and coaches are calling, so it’s healthy. It feels right and we feel excited and we look forward to getting going.

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