Freshman forward Ahkeel Rodney recently checked in with VirginiaSports.com to preview the team's upcoming tournament in Portland, Ore., and to recap the three preseason exhibitions. Rodney, a native of Elmont, N.Y., and the men's soccer team kick off the regular-season on Friday at 10 p.m. ET vs. Portland.
Question: What has been the most surprising in the transition from preseason training to these first three exhibition games?
Rodney: Definitely the speed of play. I was used to my old high school teammates so I would know, for instance, where they would turn and where they would go with the ball. Now, seeing new players and seeing new faces, we just have to work on getting better as a team and moving forward.
Question: What do you think has best prepared you for playing at Virginia?
Rodney: The high levels of soccer that I played over the last few years. I played back home with a really good developmental team and I also had some experience with the national team, so that was definitely helpful.
Question: Do you have any specific goals for yourself this season?
Rodney: I just want to win a national championship as a team. If I am coming off the bench and playing 10 minutes, or if I score goals for the team or make assists, it doesn't matter. I just want to win a national championship.
Question: How did it feel to score your first goal in the exhibition game at Old Dominion?
Rodney: It definitely felt good. And it felt good as a team. Having all of my teammates cheer me on was a great experience.
Question: What do you think the team has learned from these first three exhibition games?
Rodney: We have to play as a team more, focus on the little things and just work hard because we got beaten to 50-50 balls, and made other mistakes that we shouldn't. So we have to work hard because we definitely have a good team. In every game we have played so far, we dominated, so we have to get it together and go forward as the best.
Question: Why did you choose UVa?
Rodney: It is a great place to be. The school is beautiful, Klöckner Stadium is beautiful, the facilities are beautiful. And then this team; I think this team is the best team I have ever been a part of, plus the coaches are really cool. Just everything about this place is great.
Question: Being at UVa and being so busy, do you miss anything from home?
Rodney: I miss my parents, and definitely my friends and people I am close to - I miss my brother.
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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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