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Charlotte 49ers women's soccer gears up for spring campaign
Depth and development are immediate goals
Published Sunday, January 10, 2021
by Ashley Mahoney

Charlotte women's soccer coach John Cullen is focused on developing depth for the season ahead as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which pushed the campaign from the fall semester to spring.

Charlotte 49ers women’s soccer is heading into an unusual season.

Soccer at the collegiate level typically takes place during the fall, but the 49ers’ season was pushed to the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In North Carolina, girls’ high school and club competition takes place during the spring, so it is not entirely new territory.

“It is an unusual time for all of us because none of us have ever been down that road before in terms of the college scene,” coach John Cullen said.

In previous years, the 49ers would be preparing for their spring season, which primarily focuses on development, with a handful of exhibitions. Not so in 2021.

“For us as college coaches, normally this is the time we would be coming back [from winter break] and spending endless amounts of time working in the weight room, conditioning, doing some individual work, doing some small group work, but now with the season being in the spring, we have to prepare the team as quickly as possible,” Cullen said.

Players were sent home with a substantial work load over winter break.

As they begin to return to campus, the 49ers will isolate for four days, undergo testing, and pending results get to training by Jan. 15. The players will break into three groups: those ready to increase their workload, those who need more time to prepare and those coming back from injury. The goal is to have as many players in the first group as possible.

Cullen expects to test their depth this season, which is something he predicts all college coaches will have to do.

“It’s a situation where you may lose a player or several players due to contact tracing at any moment in time,” he said. “It is important for us to establish that every player has an opportunity to play this season. Most seasons you would probably go 20, 22, maybe 24 players deep. This year you might have to use every player on your squad. If you have contact tracing with one player, it might shut down five or six other players at the same time.”

Charlotte had two players isolate during the fall. They also paid close attention to what other teams are doing, particularly at the professional level, to navigate the pandemic’s impact on rosters.

“We just have to be able adapt and adapt means which team can overcome the most disruption and still deal with it,” Cullen said.

The 49ers will host Mecklenburg County rival Davidson on Jan. 27 in an exhibition. It will feature three 30-minute intervals, and everyone will play. Charlotte is scheduled to open the regular season on Feb. 5 at Kennesaw State.



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