Tech ready to get tournament started

F. Brian Ferguson/For The Register-HeraldWVU Tech’s Brittany Dye, front, and Oakland City’s Becca Rutherford fight for the ball during their match Oct. 31, 2020, in Beckley. The Golden Bears are the sixth seed in the River States Conference Tournament and will play at No. 3 Rio Grande Thursday at 6 p.m. in the first round.

When you look at it, the WVU Tech women's soccer team ran the table last fall.

No, the Golden Bears didn't go undefeated. But unlike most other teams, they were able to get the best of Covid-19.

Eleven games scheduled, 11 games played. Not a single cancellation or postponement.

Head coach Kate Franks-Carr definitely appreciates the anomaly.

"We got lucky enough to finish the regular season in the fall, so we've been fortunate to have that and play as many games as possible," she said. "I'm thankful that we were even able to get that many in."

Of course, that presented its own set of challenges. After the NAIA decided to postpone all of its fall national championships until spring, the River States Conference did the same with most of its postseason tournaments. 

That left the Golden Bears playing the waiting game. They finished the fall with a 4-4-2 conference record, but the remainder of the conference teams had league games to make up in the spring.

"I think it wasn't too difficult. We allowed the girls to have a slight mental break," Franks-Carr said. "We would have loved to have more of an opportunity to give the girls a mental and physical break that would typically see over the winter and early in the spring, so we gave them a modified (break). They did workouts and things like that just to keep them on their 'A' game as much as possible. Then we picked up as if we never left come January."

Everything finally played out to completion on Monday, and Tech was able to cling to the sixth and final seed. Tournament play for the Golden Bears begins Thursday at No. 3 Rio Grande (8-2). The game will begin at 6 p.m.

The out-of-the-ordinary spring season has been as much about mindset as it has been maintaining physical skills.

"Typically, in a normal spring we would be pretty laid back and trying to build some things we didn't get to work on in the fall," Franks-Carr said. "So we've taken the approach of maintaining that laid back attitude, because if you get worked up and stressed out, we know that cancellations and rescheduled games are just part of this season, the fall and spring combined. We've tried to keep composed and keep relaxed as much as we can so that we have the flexibility to plan for what we can and move on from what we can't."

The Golden Bears picked up five nonconference games, and it hasn't been a cakewalk. They played NAIA No. 10 Indiana Wesleyan, Mount Vernon — which is receiving Top 25 votes — and wrapped things up Sunday with a game at Marshall.

"I think that we've done pretty well," Franks-Carr said. "Things can always be better and we continue to work on those things, especially going into the tournament now. But as far as all things considered, they are doing very well for having that expectation that they have to maintain that high level of play for an entire year, as opposed to just one shortened season. So for what they have accomplished, I'm very proud of them for maintaining what they have and continuing to push through the challenges they still face."

Tech fell 2-0 at Rio Grande on Sept. 26 in their only meeting.

Midfielder Trinity Hassey has taken 30 shots and 20 shots on goal in 10 games and has scored three game-winning goals for the RedStorm.

Tech midfielder Brittany Dye, a Princeton High alumna, has scored eight goals and averages 3.7 shots on goal. Keeper Jenna Miller has 93 saves, which is 13th in the nation.

Tournament semifinal games will be played April 6 and the championship game is set for April 10. Each game will be played at the home of the highest remaining seed.

The champion will receive an automatic bid to the national tournament, with opening round games on campus sites April 15-17.


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