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Q&A: With Rachel Quon
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 11/01/2011

Nov. 1, 2011

STANFORD, Calif. - Rachel Quon is a junior who has started every season at outside back and is one victory away from completing her third unbeaten regular season, if the Cardinal can get by visiting Cal on Saturday night. Quon has experienced only two losses at Stanford, in the past two NCAA finals. This year, Stanford, under coach Paul Ratcliffe, is 18-0-1 and ranked No. 1.

She recently talked about Stanford's consistent winning, her teammates, and having her sister on campus.

Q: Every year, Stanford has to replace a great player or two, whether its Allison Falk in defense when you arrived, or Hermann Trophy winners Kelley O'Hara and Christen Press the past two years. And yet the team continues to excel. What's more important, the individuals or the system?
A: First of all, Paul's going to recruit the best players in the country, so no matter who we have on our team every year, the freshman classes seem to have a big impact. Also, the winter and spring gives us a huge amount of time to work together on our individual skills and learn what we need to work on without those players. And, I think, each year someone has stepped up into a role. Christen, Kelley, Allison were all great players, but each year someone else steps into those roles. It's always been a team effort.

Q: Is this team better than last year's, which reached its second consecutive College Cup final?Q: Every year, Stanford has to replace a great player or two, whether its Allison Falk in defense when you arrived, or Hermann Trophy winners Kelley O'Hara and Christen Press the past two years. And yet the team continues to excel. What's more important, the individuals or the system?
A: First of all, Paul's going to recruit the best players in the country, so no matter who we have on our team every year, the freshman classes seem to have a big impact. Also, the winter and spring gives us a huge amount of time to work together on our individual skills and learn what we need to work on without those players. And, I think, each year someone has stepped up into a role. Christen, Kelley, Allison were all great players, but each year someone else steps into those roles. It's always been a team effort.

Q: Is this team better than last year's, which reached its second consecutive College Cup final?
A: I just say, `We're working hard as a team together, and we're taking it one by one.' Each game, we've actually learned something new and we've been tweaking each little detail, which I think will help in the future.

Q: How much autonomy do you have in the way you move up the flank, how far you can go, and things like that?
A: I love Paul's system. As an outside back, he gives us freedom to go forward, which makes it that much more fun. He emphasizes picking the right moments to go. You just have to choose when it's a good time. Also, when the offense needs that little more support, you've got to make that run.

Q: It seems like there are very few times when Stanford's defenders are stuck in a one-on-one situation, and there always seem to be numbers behind the ball even though Stanford is not a bunker team. How is that possible?
A: It's the system that we play. Even starting from the very top, we want to defend. The forwards have to defend, and they do a great job doing that. And then I feel like we all want to support each other. It's that little trust and that confidence in each other - that you're always going to have my back -- that makes us a better team.

Q: One of the most impressive things about this team is how much ground central defender Alina Garciamendez covers. She's going side to side, catching people if they get through. She's really having an All-America season.
A: Alina's having an awesome season. I was actually thinking about that yesterday in practice: I'm so lucky to have Alina behind me. She's the backbone of the whole backline. Her 1 v. 1 defending is so solid that I'm almost positive she'll always get it. And as good as she's been, when we all come together, it's a very strong back line. I feel like she's like an unsung hero. She's an awesome player.

Q: Almost the entire backline is the same class, with many of you stepping immediately into starting roles. Now, other members of the class of `13, such as Marjani Hing-Glover, Madeleine Thompson and Nina Watkins, are making big contributions throughout the lineup. Is there a sense of pride among the juniors?
A: Yes. We love being a class. We have family dinners all the time. Whenever there's a competition between classes, we usually win. We really take pride in our class and it's awesome how people have stepped up. And, as we've gotten older, we've taken on the role of being the role model for the freshmen and sophomores. It's awesome to see all of us playing.

Q: You and Camille Levin play the same position on opposite sides. Do you take on the same roles?
A: Cami's awesome. She loves to take people one on one. I'm more of a player who passes around people. We have different strengths and different tools. I don't think Paul wants us to do the exact same thing, and I think that makes us that much stronger because they don't know what's going to happen.

Q: Every player on your team has the skill to play the ball effectively. How much of an added dimension does that provide for your team?
A: Paul really puts an emphasis on technical ability, and we work on that in practice, juggling, and putting a good first touch on the ball. Just have that trust, if I pass the ball, someone else will be able to take it down and score. It helps with the speed of play also. If we're able to ping the ball around, it makes us that much better.

Q: If you get through the match against Cal on Saturday, you will have the distinction of never losing a regular-season game in your collegiate career, and it will complete a third consecutive perfect conference season. That's remarkable.
A: We take it game by game. Our two goals that we set up this spring, are winning the Pac-12 and winning a national championship. The journey, obviously, is a huge part of it. Not losing is key to our success, so we'll see how it goes.

Q: Your sister Kasey is a freshman on the Stanford field hockey team. What's it like to have your sister on campus?
A: It's always nice to have someone there. It's nice for her, I'm sure. She's asks me a lot of questions. I know she's always going to be there for my games and I like to support her team now.

Q: Are you able to do things together?
A: We started doing a weekly dinner, but once we started traveling with our teams it got a little messy. When my parents are here it's awesome. They usually come out to every home game anyway, but it's nice that Kasey's here too.

Q: Your family is full of talented athletic kids. You and Kasey play sports at Stanford, your brother Chris played lacrosse and soccer in college, and your older sister Sarah was on the dance team at USC. Did your parents encourage you to be involved in sports?
A: Our family's really competitive. Everything's a competition. We tried just about every sport, like ice skating and golf, all different kinds. We all kind of found our little niche. Kasey actually played soccer and I played field hockey, though not that well. We just love sports.

Q: How competitive did it get? Were you knocking heads in the living room?
A: Oh yeah. When I tore my ACL, I had to do some exercises at home and I had to do this balancing thing, and we made it a competition. My mom and all of us had to single leg bound for as long as possible. It was kind of ridiculous. But it was a little thing that made our family closer.

Q: How do you stay focused on the daily stuff the team needs to get better and not look too far ahead?
A: It's all about the journey. Every week is a new week. Even after our Friday games, we want to learn what we need to learn from that game and move on to Sunday's game. I think the coaches have done a good job of keeping the team focused, and staying focused every weekend. After that, we'll take it one by one, but we all know that our overall goal is to win the national championship. It's always in the back of our minds.

Q: Is there any more sense of resolve after the past two years, losing in the final?
A: It's just different every year. Our whole team is different. We have a different lineup. Everyone in the soccer world is different. It's a new season, new game, and a new week.

-- David Kiefer, Stanford Athletics


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