Players on the top-ranked Virginia women's soccer team admit that going undefeated wasn't always one of their goals for the season. But with three games to go, it is now.
"Oh, it's crazy. Because in the beginning of the year, you're always like, "Win ACC's. Win a national championship." And you're just like, "Oh, if an undefeated season comes, that's great,"" sophomore Brittany Ratcliffe said Wednesday. "But now that we're actually undefeated, it's something we have to do. We can't lose now, at this point."
"We definitely throw it out there, and we kind of joke about it. But it's actually a really serious thing," said junior Danielle Colaprico. "And I think we all would like to do that, and that's what we're going to try for."
The Cavaliers wrap up their regular season with a three-game homestand, starting Thursday night against Miami. That's followed by visits from two teams currently ranked in the top five nationally -- No. 3 Florida State on Sunday, then No. 4 Virginia Tech next Thursday.
Steve Swanson's 16-0 team has been No. 1 in every major national poll for more than a month now.
"I think one of the reasons we've been successful is, our players don't like to lose. So I think there's no questions that we want to finish strong," he said Wednesday. "But you just can't look ahead. You have to really, kind of -- as hard as it is sometimes, you just have to focus on the game at hand. And that's what we've tried to do."
"I think with our team, it's really good that we take every game in the present," Ratcliffe said. "We don't look in the past; we don't look into the future. It's what do we have to do right now to win the game."
"It's definitely surprising, having an undefeated season. But our team is really, really good. And I'm happy for us."
Ten of Virginia's 16 wins have come at Klöckner Stadium this season. The Cavaliers drew a record crowd of 2,540 for their win over Maryland on September 29. That record only lasted 11 days, however, with 2,838 fans in the stands for UVa's win over Notre Dame in double overtime on October 10.
"It's so awesome," Ratcliffe said of the Cavaliers' home field advantage. "Honestly, the atmosphere at Klöckner is like no other. We have so many fans. We've broken two attendance records this year. And one of them was even in a torrential downpour."
"We've been fortunate, we've been on the winning end of these games here recently," said Swanson. "And I think we're going to need their help. We're going to need everything we have to beat these teams that are coming in here, starting with Miami on Thursday."