The Sweden Women’s National Soccer team played in their own style to win the silver medal in the 2016 Olympic Games, shutting out the noise of powerhouse countries. Sweden played their game. It was not always pretty, but they stunned the tournament by beating host-nation Brazil and the best team in the World, the U.S.
Like Sweden, the Malone women’s soccer team is sticking to their style of play and finding success.
“I told our girls, I don’t care if we win or lose. I care about playing our way. We are not worried about the wins and losses. We are worried about playing our way,” said Josh Jones, head coach.
This strategy has paid off so far, resulting in the defeat of Alderson Broaddus University, whose team had previously gone 5-0. An even bigger shock came with a 3-0 blitz of Davis and Elkins, a team with one of the best players in the nation.
The young team will be tested to play their Barcelona-like, high pressing, possession holding style on the road against a variety of teams in a front-loaded schedule.
“It does not matter what any other team is trying to do. The biggest thing we tell our girls is we have to read the game. It’s all about what the other teams give us. It’s the freedom to do what you want,” said Jones.
Part of the Malone game includes a quick, one touch style that requires team chemistry to prevent the opponent from establishing a rhythm.
“We have connected really well on and off the field. I think if you don’t connect really well off the field, you really can’t connect on the field,” said senior forward Christine Najjar. “If we play the way we know how to we will be fine. If we can do that right we can win a lot of games.”
“We’re extremely close. You can see that when we play. We kind of know what each other is going to do. It really is easy to play with a group of people you’re close to,” said Annie Boyle, junior midfielder.
Their focus on playing their style has the Pioneers on track to shock and surprise a lot of teams. The added depth demonstrates that the Pioneers are not only a team to watch, but also a team to respect.
Playing their way has put the pioneers into a position similar to Sweden. Only time will tell if Malone enjoys the same ending.