Wednesday, August 21, 2013
As she and her Washington Spirit Reserves teammates walked off the field at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex on July 13, having suffered a 2-1 defeat against the Virginia Beach Piranhas, a familiar tune started to play over the public address system.
“We Are The Champions”, by Queen.
It was appropriate, of course. The Piranhas had claimed the W-League’s regular-season championship, finishing top of the Northeastern Conference with only one loss all season. For Stobbs and her teammates, who would return the following weekend for the Northeastern Conference Championship Game, it certainly provided motivation for the week of training that was ahead.
“We were like, ‘Hold on, you haven’t made it to the final four yet, why are you playing that song?’” Stobbs said by phone this week. “I think that fueled us for the game after, because we were like, ‘they think they’re the champions, let’s just show them now how much we can play.’”
The Spirit Reserves would take their revenge, with Stobbs providing the assist as Ashley Herndon scored the game-winner in a 2-1 victory that sent the side on to the W-League Championship at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. the following week. While the Spirit Reserves came up short in the semifinals against eventual champion the Pali Blues, Stobbs said she appreciated the experience of reaching the championship weekend, and playing in the league throughout the summer.
“The W-League was very fun,” she said. “You have a good selection of different players from different colleges, a lot of different areas, and then obviously I think the Spirit took it quite seriously on what players they would select, so I played with some great players. The standard of individuals was one of the best I’ve played on, the girls from Stanford, girls from UVA, girls from Virginia Tech, loads of different schools, we all got on really well, and we were all really competitive.”
Stobbs herself was at the forefront of that competitiveness. A creator more than a scorer, even going back to her days playing in Chelsea and Arsenal’s youth academies, Stobbs finished tied for the league lead with nine assists in the W-League. While statistics like assists have been relatively slow to catch on in Europe, Stobbs appreciates that the work she does to set up teammates is valued in North America.
“When you get recognized for assists, it shows everyone, yeah, I may not score all the goals, but I do help out,” Stobbs said. “It is nice for someone else to get credit for the goal that happened.”
And her competitiveness meant that as the season went on, she was certainly keeping an eye on who else was competing with her for the league lead. After finishing tied with Juliana Libertin of the Dayton Dutch Lions, Stobbs was very pleased with her accomplishment.
“I got quite competitive about it during the season, I would check how I did, and how I was doing in [the league leaders],” she said. “When I got it, it was really good. It was just a really good feeling to get recognized, even though you’re not the one putting the ball in the back of the net.”
Stobbs is hoping her form from the W-League season will carry through into the fall as she returns to Hofstra, and is also hoping for some better fortune when it comes to injuries. Each of her first three seasons with the Pride have been brought to and end prematurely through injury, a fractured clavicle the culprit in both 2011 and 2012. With Hofstra getting set to defend its Colonial Athletic Association crown, Stobbs is hoping to play a major role on a team that returns 10 starters from a season ago.
“Obviously I’d like to play a big role in the team,” she said. “I want to take off to the championship final and win another ring, and I want to push for more than just one round of the NCAA Tournament. We always manage to face [Boston College] in the first round, we beat UConn in the my freshman year and it was amazing to move on to the second round, and I think everybody here wants to crush the conference, get the ring and then move on as far in the NCAA Tournament as we can.”
As for Stobbs, the experience she gained competing for the Spirit Reserves, and alongside the players in the club’s NWSL squad, has her motivated to elevate her game so that following her graduation she will be able to turn professional in the United States.
“For me at the moment, my main aim is to do well in college and develop so that I can be a player in the [NWSL],” Stobbs said. “I would rather play over here than in England, but my main aim is to play soccer after college, so my first option is here, but if that doesn’t work out, I will find somewhere else to play.”
Whatever happens, though, Stobbs sees soccer playing a major role in whatever she does in the future.
“A lot of girls will just stop playing after college, and some of the Americans look at us English like we’re crazy. They’re like ‘you really love soccer that much that you want play after college?’ And I’ll be like ‘yeah, that’s what I’m here for,’” she said. “There’s a big chance; my main aim is to do well the next two years and hopefully progress on to the professional league over here.”