UVa men's soccer associate head coach Mike McGinty recently checked in with VirginiaSports.com to talk about the upcoming season and the Cavaliers' exhibition contest Friday at Klöckner Stadium. Kick-off against George Mason is 7 p.m.
Question: The team reported for preseason camp on Monday (Aug. 17) so you have the first few days of practice under your belt. What is the general feeling heading into the first exhibition match?
McGinty: So far, so good. The kids have worked hard throughout the spring and the summer. Everybody did their job with their running and conditioning so we're able to start right away working on soccer and get used to playing together as a team.
Question: How rewarding is it to be able to start coaching the kids you have spent a long time getting to know during the recruiting process?
McGinty: Right now is the fun part. We've got a good group of guys and lot of players that we believe in strongly that have bright futures. It's great to finally get out on the field and get to know each other and see people develop. This is the highlight of coaching, getting here working together towards the same goals. The overall talent of this group is better than I've ever seen since I've been here.
Question: Virginia was picked to finish second in the ACC. How much attention does the staff and/or the team pay to those kinds of predictions?
McGinty: We don't pay a ton of attention to it, and we try not to be bothered by it one way or another. I mean, we've had teams predicted to finish low in the league that have finished high and we've had teams that finished lower than predicted. This year, being picked second, it reflects that we have a very strong team and the respect that the other coaches have for our roster. But until we play games, it's just a prediction. We don't spend time talking about it with the team. We focus on ourselves and get ready to play.
Question: You have been a part of head coach George Gelnovatch's staff for more than 10 years. Two seasons ago, you were elevated to the position of associate head coach. What is it about Virginia that has helped you be so successful?
McGinty: It's really a good place to work. There is an athletic department that's committed to winning and giving our players all the resources that it can. The University is committed to teaching and having a group of kids that want to pursue an important, meaningful diploma. I enjoy working for and with George because he is someone who lets me do a lot of stuff. Over the years we've developed a good trust, I think he feels I am a good sounding board. So yes, as a young coach I'm happy here.
Question: After going through the spring season and now the first few days of preseason, is there anyone you feel like is flying under the radar and might be ready for a breakout season?
McGinty: I think we've got a number of guys who are potential candidates. A couple because people don't really know them, and a couple because they are coming back from injury. Also maybe because there are a few that have switched positions. Honestly, I can't single one or two guys out, but if our team does well then there are guys that will start being recognized.
Question: You were a goalkeeper at Wake Forest. Can you talk about the goalkeeper situation this season for UVa, knowing that fans might be seeing three faces at the position that they have not seen before.
McGinty: We've got Diego Restrepo, who transferred in and was here last spring which was a positive thing because he got himself acclimated. Although he's new, he's got an entire spring and has got some experience playing college soccer. He maybe new to UVa fans but he is not new to college soccer. Matt Owen has been here an entire year and has been through an entire redshirt year so there is a comfort level there. And Will Whorton, a first year, has a lot of ability and will get better and better. The fans may not recognize their names yet, but all of them are capable and have strengths. It's a good situation as a coach.
Question: You have three exhibition games this year, two of which are at Klöckner Stadium. What are you looking for out of those contests?
McGinty: We're happy to have three exhibitions instead of two. It gives us another game to really look at different combinations of players and different ideas and tactics. Last year, we had a lot of young players and it took us a little while to get comfortable with what combinations of players worked and what were our strengths. This year I think we're starting in a better place because having an extra game does give us a little more time to look at things. We're excited and I'm hoping that by the time we get to Portland we'll have an idea of how far along we are.
Question: The regular season home-opener is Sept. 11 against Duke. What kind of atmosphere does Klöckner provide, and what can you say to fans about how much that helps the team's performance?
McGinty: We hope to have a sold out crowd for that Duke game. We have an attractive, attacking, talented team that people would enjoy coming to watch. It's the second part of the double-header that evening (the women's soccer team plays West Virginia at 6 p.m.). We are hoping to have a capacity crowd. When we do, more often than not, it gives our players a definite advantage. It's a powerful advantage when you have 8,000 people spurring you on. Any time you can come see this team it would be worth it. It's a team that I enjoy being a part of and enjoy watching every day.
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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