Nile McNair, Contributing Writer
Freshman forward Annabel Anderson was able to get a feel for the traditional collegiate soccer experience when she arrived on campus during the spring semester last year. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic halted everything.
“I got a month with no COVID and played in a half of the Georgetown game,” Anderson said. “It sucks that I got a taste of what it’s like without COVID but it definitely changed how things would be.”
Despite a one-day snow delay, women’s soccer kicked off its season hosting Liberty on Tuesday and winning 2-0.
“I’m just excited because we’ve been working so hard and we haven’t played a game in so long,” Anderson said before the game. “We’re really pumped to play against Liberty.”
The team has two freshman forwards this season with standout careers at the high school level.
Anderson was a three-time MVP at Fairfield Area High School in Fairfield, Pennsylvania, and scored 140 goals during her four years.
Perry said she feels like the unpredictability of COVID-19 and its impact on the team’s daily schedule has limited her development.
“COVID is holding me back personally from really being the best me possible, especially since it started over a year ago,” Perry said. “It’s like I wasn’t allowed to develop during that year.”
The Waldorf, Maryland, native is recovering from a stress fracture injury in her dominant left foot. Perry said the injury will keep her out for six weeks.
“My main focus is working hard on getting back where I used to be,” Perry said. “I know that’s going to be a long journey filled with disappointment, embarrassment and stress but it’s a process I’m ready to take on.”
For Anderson and Perry, their paths to Richmond weren’t like the traditional recruiting process. They both committed to different colleges before picking VCU.
Anderson decommitted from the Army during her senior year of high school, feeling that the military would take away from her aspirations to play professionally.
While trying to be recruited by universities after decommitting, Anderson impressed VCU head coach Lindsey Martin at one of her games and committed to play with the Rams.
“VCU just felt like where I wanted to be,” Anderson said. “And I liked the city because I’m not from the city at all.”
Perry originally committed to the University of Maryland, but the rigors of the recruiting process led to her reopening her recruitment during her junior year of high school.
“VCU came to me and was really interested in me, so I took my official visit and kind of fell in love with the school,” Perry said. “I kind of felt like this place was home, so the process the second time was a lot less stressful.”
Although Anderson and Perry were standout players in high school, they still have room to grow from a mental aspect. Martin said Anderson could be more detailed orientated and that, “I need to work on the little things because it will really help me open the game.”
For Perry, the coaches want her development to center around “believing in herself.”
“The main thing is that I need to be confident,” Perry said. “I came in with talent and I just need to be confident that I can go as far as I allow myself to.”
Not only are the coaches invested in these two freshmen, but so are their teammates. Perry and Anderson have been able to bond with teammates during practice, team culture zoom calls and in team accountability groups.
“There’s a time to be selfish but more times to be selfless and bring my team with me and play for my team cause that’s who will always have my back at the end of the day,” Perry said.
After just a few scrimmage games, Perry raved about the hard work Anderson puts in to be so skilled.
“I think Annabel is an amazing player, probably one of the best forwards I’ve ever played with and her talent goes beyond measure,” Perry said.
Anderson feels the two play well together and are hard to defend against.
“We’re really good at playing off of each other cause she’s left footed, I’m right footed so it just works,” Anderson said. “We’re both pretty fast, so when it’s just us up there we have a good connection.”