The Virginia women’s soccer team concluded its preseason schedule with a 2-2 tie against Georgetown Monday night at Klckner Stadium. At that game, Cavalier fans probably noticed a pair of players playing with facemasks. Senior defender Nikki Krzysik and junior forward Caitlin Miskel both suffered broken noses during the first practice of the year. VirginiaSports.com caught up with both players to discuss their masks, preseason camp, and Friday’s season opener against Loyola (7 p.m. at Klckner Stadium).
Question: It had been years since anyone on the team has had to wear a facemask and then in a span of about five minutes, you both suffer broken noses in practice. Is it just a case of lightning striking twice?
Nikki Krzysik: It was the first practice and everyone was excited to get started. We were doing some one versus one defending and everyone got into it and those type of things happen. It was just a coincidence that it happened to us in that time period.
Cailtin Miskel: I thought it was kind of funny because when she went down, she was sure she had broken her nose. Then we went against another group, I got elbowed in the nose, but I didn’t think mine was broken. But when I saw it was bleeding, I guessed it was broken and now we have to wear the masks. Question: Is this the first time either of you have had to wear one?
Miskel: I broke my nose last year and I tried one, but it wasn’t as good as this one. Question: The masks were specially made just for each of you. What goes into the process of getting them made?
Krzysik: They have to make a mold of your face to make the mask. You had to lay on a table and they put a stocking over your face and then plaster on that. You had to then wait for the plaster to dry and they had to cut the stocking off of your face.
Miskel: It felt weird and it was a little scary, but it works. Question: If this was going to happen, is there an advantage to having happen at the start of practice where you have had two weeks of practice and two exhibition games to get used to the mask before the season opener?
Krzysik: I think it was good to go through preseason with it on. That said, I want to get mine off as soon as possible.
Miskel: I don’t mind the mask as much, although it is annoying for heading. I am going to try to wear it as long as possible unless really becomes a large hindrance for me.Question: What is the biggest adjustment to playing with a mask?
Krzysik: For me it is heading. That’s a big job for a defender. You kind of have to time the ball differently with the mask, and that’s the biggest adjustment for me.
Miskel: Heading is different for me too, but I don’t do it as much as Nikki. For me, it is the weird feeling you have while wearing it. As you sweat, your sweat stays inside the mask and then drips down your face. That makes it awkward.Question: Other than your injuries, overall, how was preseason camp?
Krzysik: Preseason was great. This is the time for us to come together and incorporate the first-years into the team. It’s a new team. The team chemistry starts then and you build from there.
Miskel: I think it went well and everyone worked very hard. We have high expectations for this year and the preseason, especially the trip to Michigan, got us off to a good start.Question: How excited are you to begin the regular season on Friday night?
Krzysik: The first game is always great, opening up the season at Klckner. I am excited for my last “first game”. I can’t wait to get the season started.
Miskel: I am so excited. It feels like you wait all summer and all preseason for that one moment when the season starts. I think we are all ready to get going.