NCAA College Cup Press Conference (12/3/09l prior to semifinals)

PRESS CONFERECE VIDEO LINKS: 
UCLA  ...  Stanford  ...  UNC  ...  Notre Dame


CLICK HERE: For link to full press-conference transcript (all four teams); page also includes podcast audio links (one per team)


Thanks to the NCAA and Texas A&M for providing video and audio links.


Here are some of the press-conference highlights: 


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UCLA HEAD COACH JILLIAN ELLIS

(on losing 7-2 at North Carolina in the season opener)

"I think we ran into the perfect storm. Leaving the field, for our team, was a gut check. We recognized we had a lot of work to do and a lot of growing, and we almost recommited ourselves to the adage that it's not where you start, it's where you finish. This is one team for me that has definitely progressed through the season."


(on making seven NCAA semifinals in a row and looking for a title)

"I think eveyroene else thinks we're snake bit, but for me, every year and every team presents an opportunity to win. ... my confidence in them has grown through the performances i've seen this year."


(on this year's semifinal field)

"We have had a tough, tough journey, going thru Virginia and Portland to get here. I told the players last night to imagine that this is the only time you'll get here. ... The players certainly put pressure on themselves, but I dont think we feel external pressure."


(on matching up with Stanford...)

"... Playing them on their home field made it more of a challenge for us. What we'll have to do is keep the ball. Their pace up top is a big asset for them, so we know our defense will be busy. That makes it even more important to our frontline players and our midifeld to get the ball and take the pressure off our back line."


UCLA JUNIOR DEFENDER JENNA BELCHER

(on previous matchup with Stanford)

"Our performances against Virginia and Portland show how much we've grown as a team, as well as our ability to take our key players and make them more special, with the team we have around them."  


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STANFORD HEAD COACH PAUL RATCLIFFE

(on team focus)

"We've had great leadership. Kelly (O'Hara), Ali (Riley) and Alicia (Jenkins) are our three captains. They've been tremendous leaders the entire year and have kept the team very focused. They always work hard and give 100 percent effort so it's been a really good year."

 

(on the weather)

... "We want to play our best and get after it, so we're not going to let anything stand in our way."


(on Kelly O'Hara playing the whole 90 minutes)

"I always say that Kelly is an inspirational leader ... a great competitor and her game has developed so much that she's creating great opportunities for others, and she's also capable of scoring at any time.  


SENIOR FORWARD KELLY O'HARA

(on last year's semifinal game and the experience gained)

"We played pretty good possession soccer, but it was our inability to break them down in the final third because they played a style were they had their four backs and they would drop in. Moving forward from that game we kind of took that regardless of how the other team plays we need to be able to beat all different styles of play. That's something we've worked on this year and we've done a lot better job of being able to break any style down."


SENIOR DEFENDER ALI RILEY 

(on young players on the team)

"...They've been great leaders themselves.   It's been great especially having Rachel (Quon) and Alina (Garciamendez) in the back. They've taught Alicia and me things, so everyone out there really knows what they're doing. I think it's going to be exciting to see them on play this stage."


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NORTH CAROLINA HEAD COACH ANSON DORRANCE

... "This is the ultimate soccer party for our sport. You want to be at the party, and we're here."  


(on the semidinal field being the same as in 2008)

"We all evolve at different paces and graduate different players. Stanford comes in like they are shot out of a cannon. They are certainly the team that should be favored. They have talent at every position, are fast, and have goalscorers all over the place. ...  All of us have athletes that are capable of taking games over. ..." 


(on reaching the College Cup semifinals)

"The terrifying and exciting thing about college athletics is that there is a single game to get here. Upsets in soccer are so common. ... I can't sleep the night after we qualify to get here. I'm so excited, and its the truth."


(on the big win over Notre Dame earlier this season)

"... In any season, when we racked up losses, what I'm dying for is to hit those teams again. I want to play them and I want them in my bracket. It gives you a wonderful motivational platform. We don't really feel having beat them earlier gives us much. I think it gives them a motivational platform. But another thing you appreciate about playing teams of the caliber of Notre Dame and UCLA in the regular season is that it helps harden our team. ... over the course of four years your kids are battle tested."  


UNC SENIOR DEFENDER WHITNEY ENGEN

(on the familiarity and consistency of the defense)

"We know each other's strengths and weakness... We are able to cover for them and know what to expect. It helps us in that we play so much together. It helps us fortify a really strong defense."  


UNC JUNIOR MIDFIELDER MEGHAN KLINGENBERG

(on missing the '08 College Cup while being at the U20 World Championship)

"When we were in Chile, there were terrible internet connections. Trying to watch games was an issue to say the least. At one point we had someone hook up a TV and we turned on Skype and we watched the game that way."


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NOTRE DAME HEAD COACH RANDY WALDRUM

(on what was said to team after North Carolina game earlier this season)

... "We were still finding a way early in the year, deciding where we were going to play some players, and that was due mainly because we lost some key players in our preseason to some injuries. ...you're trying to find your best lineup. Unfortunately we caught a couple of good teams while we kind of figured that out. Some seasons you can do it quicker than others. You're trying to find that chemistry that's going to work on when the team solidified a game lineup. ..."


(midseason lineup changes)

"We felt like we had to make the move with Lauren (Fowlkes) up front. We needed somebody that could hold the ball for us. That was a move pretty early on that we felt like we had to do. We moved Courtney Barg back from more of an attacking midfield player to a holding midfield player. That position for us in the formation we play is kind of the quarterback of our team. When we made that move, things really started to take off for us. She did such a great job of orchestrating and organizing our team. When I realized that we were back and that this was the game we really needed and that we showed some character in was the Cincinnati game on the road. ... We went down 1-0 with about 10 minutes left in the game and came back and scored two to win it. That game seemed to kind of turn us and the team started to believe that we were good."


(on having Haley Ford back)

"To have that experienced center back back in there has been great. We do have to give a lot of credit to Ellen Bartindale who stepped in there when Haley was injured. Ellen went from really not playing in any meaningful games to starting for us against Connecticut and in games we had to win.  


(on the weather)

"Bring on the snow, just hound us tomorrow. We're okay with that. We went down and played at Florida State last weekend and we saw the sun for the first time in a while. We're ready for a good snow."


(on the same teams in the semifinals)

"It's like in any other sport you learn how to win and you learn how to maneuver in the tournament. You learn how to go on the road and win big games. Tournament time is a different time and you gain some experience along the way. It's not an easy thing."


JUNIOR FORWARD LAUREN FOWLKES

(on changing positions)

"I've definitely enjoyed playing in different places on the field. Just getting used to it at times was a bit of a challenge, but I've played all of those positions before growing up, so it's just whatever the team needs I'm willing to do. I got out there early to work on some stuff and coach was patient with me getting used to different positions."


SOPHOMORE DEFENDER JESSICA SCHUVEILLER

(on having Haley Ford back)

"I look up to her. She's a senior and she's a leader and just a great player. Having her back just gives the whole team confidence and we play better as a group. She's a great 1v1 defender and great in the air."


(on Casey Nogueira and the challenges she poses to the defense)

"She's an awesome player and it's extremely tough to play against her. The main thing with her is to deny the shot. I can say more than anyone that I was involved in that last goal in the last two minutes of the game (last year) and I've replayed that one a lot. Denying the shot and not letting the ball get to her feet is the key there."

 editor@collegesoccer360.com