Q&A with women’s soccer coach Neil Payne

ELON, NC — Fresh off a thrilling 2-1 win at UNCG in their final non-conference game of the season, women’s soccer team Elon open the CAA game this week with two home games against Northeastern and Monmouth. Thursday’s match against the Huskies is scheduled for 7pm, and Sunday’s match against the Hawks will start at 1pm.

Before Phoenix embarked on their nine-game roster, ElonPhoenix.com spoke with the head coach Neil Payne to discuss your team’s season so far.

P: What did you learn about your team in eight matches that positively surprised you?

Neil Payne: I think one is that we managed to rotate the squad. Two, the young players contributed. And third, we are capable of being tactically flexible.

P: You mentioned the young players. The freshman class has stepped in and has already made some great contributions. How have you seen the group’s progress since arriving on campus?

NP: I think older players allowed them to progress. They fit very well into the culture. His training habits are of the standard that older players expect. So they are reaping the benefits of the whole group.

P: Many of these older players also excelled in some big moments. How impressed have you been with the leadership of this cast?

NP: I was very impressed. It’s not just our captains – it’s the entire leadership group. There are good people within that group. Beky Myers and Bethany Harford brought consistent and strong leadership as team captains.

P: Speaking of consistency, Kennedy Jones played just 27 minutes this season. How important is this stability she brings to the table?

NP: As a team, we were really impressed with Kennedy because we asked her to tweak her game over the last year, and she bought it. You can see the positive changes in her game that are allowing her to play to such a high standard. We were very impressed with how she adapted.

P: Last season, the team scored 21 goals. You are already 17 years old this year and you are at the top of the conference in several offensive categories. What was the biggest key to that success?

NP: I think the most important thing is to use the whole group. We were very dependent last year on carson jones, and it’s always a big loss when you lose such a good scorer. But the whole group had to step up and fill that void. Some of the players we expected would stand out and fill that void, but we were surprised by others that we might not have expected at this point in the season to contribute a few goals. Ashlee Brehio it is a. Abby Beetle increased his goal count, which reflects our style of play. So it’s nice to see these two people further up the stats column than we probably expected at this point in the season.

P: What do you expect the team to improve on as the CAA game progresses?

NP: In many ways, every move so far has been in preparation for Thursday. We’re playing with two really good teams this week that you expect to finish in the top four or five in our conference. We have enormous respect for both programs. We learned from some important games this year. We learned a lot about our strengths and imposing our playstyle on the game. But in equal measure, we learned about some shortcomings along the way that we needed to correct. So, getting into the conference game, we want to remain ourselves. However, we have to eradicate some of the self-inflicted mistakes. We just have to be disciplined in those moments, not be naive in some defensive moments and make the opponent work harder for the goals.

— ELON —

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