Nov. 14, 2012
Coach Friesen quotes | Coach Friesen presser
SAN DIEGO --
Head women's soccer coach Mike Friesen
We're excited about our win this last weekend in the first round of the NCAA Tournament with the 3-0 result over Cal State Northridge. I felt like we got out our first round jitters a little bit, especially early in the game. We were able to get a good result with some good finishing. We're excited about this weekend with California on Friday night at 7 p.m. and to be able to host the 2nd and 3rd rounds. With UCLA and Kentucky playing before us on Friday and then of course, the winners will play each other at noon on Sunday. So, excited about another fun weekend and just hoping to keep going what we started already this year.
Q. Do you think last Saturday's sluggish start will help you going forward in the NCAA Tournament?
Yeah, Northridge was a great first round matchup for us because they did bring a lot of pressure and a lot of physical play. It was a bit of a frantic game. I thought that we didn't do a great job in the first 15 minutes just kind of dealing with their pressure and putting the ball on the ground as much as we would like. I thought as we settled in, we were able to keep the ball a little bit more, but still not what we've been accustomed to. One of things for us has been the nine games we played in the Mountain West were very different than that. We didn't get the pressure like that, so it had been a few games since we had seen something like that. So it was a good first round matchup for that because California will certainly be a team that's going to want to pressure us as well. It will be different in a sense that they're going to bring more of a possession style to the game. I think it will be a better game to watch from a fan standpoint and it will be better for us as well.
Q. Can you talk about how good this California team is?
From a talent standpoint, they are very good and very deep. They have done a great job recruiting to put themselves in a great position that they are. They are a little on the younger side, but they still have some experienced players. (Betsy Hassett) is a senior who has played in the Olympics. So they have some experience mixed in there as well, but they're a very good team. As we go into the Tournament at this point, there's not an easy game for anybody. For us, playing basically the Pac-12 for the next however many games depending on the results, we're going to have to bring our best. (California) was third in the Pac-12, so they're a very good team. We saw them last year. It was a pretty even game. They probably had a little bit better of a game up at their place. We're obviously two different teams this year as well. We've both made changes to our rosters and obviously late in the following season. It was 40 games ago, but I think it will be a good matchup.
Q. Do you think playing Friday and then Sunday is an advantage?
It's certainly an advantage to be at home, to do that as opposed to being on the road to do that. So we're excited that we did put ourselves in this position to host this weekend. At this point, this is a tough weekend to play such good teams. But again, that's why we scheduled the way we've scheduled over the past five years and six as I've been the head coach here. To make sure we've experienced these exact same situations. Of course, there's a little bit more on the line with the tournament, but we've played the Stanford/Santa Clara weekend this year. We've played at Minnesota on the road with Iowa State back-to-back. We've played at Boise State. We've traveled to Portland, with Portland having no Friday game. In fact, they had 12 days of rest. So we've been in this situation several times before. So we're hoping to draw on that experience, but being at home is an advantage. At this point in the year, teams are so good that I don't think there's ever too much of an advantage with any of that stuff. But it helps being at home.
Q. Do you think the experience of playing in the Tournament is useful compared to the experience of playing in big games?
There's something to experience at a lot of levels. We do have players in our program that have played multiple games in the NCAA before, mostly older players. We have some transfers that have done the same thing from UCLA. Some of that experience is in the team. It certainly helps in terms of just knowing what to expect, but at the same time we've been doing a lot of sharing within the team of what this is like. The reality is the experience part really comes in the beginning of the tournament, where I thought last weekend our experience paid off having been here before and it's a little bit different feel. That experience at some point gets thrown out the window when you get deeper in the tournament because it's a new year and each season and each team brings its new challenges. I feel like last weekend that was the case, this weekend is probably not quite as much. Then again, going back to us being at home certainly helps us.
Q. How have practices been this week?
(Practice has been) limited so far, we just had yesterday's training. Since then, we gave them a couple of days off to make sure our legs are back underneath us. We'll train again tonight. Yesterday's training was much better than last week, just more focused. We've had a little better rest, like I said. We'll be a little healthier going into this weekend as we were a bit banged up last weekend. The energy will be very good tonight as we look forward to the California game on Friday. All year long, we've had some very good trainings. That's something that this team has done a really good job of. I can count on a single hand the amount of times I've had to ask for the effort to be higher. That's something that they've grown accustomed to and that's one of the strengths of the team. It's not just team, they have brought that work ethic every day and that's really paid off as we have gone through the season.