Nov. 26, 2009
STANFORD, Calif. - With No. 1 Stanford preparing to play visiting Boston College in the quarterfinals of the NCAA women's soccer tournament on Friday (7 p.m.), junior forward Christen Press (19 goals, 13 assists) talked about the state of the team. Also, coach Paul Ratcliffe offered a few comments below.
Q: Where is the team's playing level right now?
A: I feel like we're still getting better and we're learning from every game we're playing. They're all getting closer and tighter, and every game is a good experience to grow on.
Q: Was the increased intensity of the playoffs something you were prepared for?
A: I think with having such a great season, maybe our younger athletes didn't know what it was going to be like, though I think the older players knew that every game was going to be tight from Game One, especially when we came off such a great season. People aren't just going to come out, they're going to attack. There are going to be strategies, and upset-minded teams going against us. In all three games, we've had to battle through. I think we did a great job adapting to the different mentality that teams are coming against us, which we had to do. We've adapted better than we have in years past.
Q: Is there extra pressure being ranked No. 1?
A: There's pressure because we want to win for us. We were the No. 1 seed last year, and we're having a better season and we have a better opportunity to win. But the seed isn't what it's about. It's about us.
Q: Do you focus on your team or your opponent?
A: Boston College seems like a team that knows that they can play with us. They will focus more on themselves, and we will focus more on ourselves. With Santa Clara, playing them a second time this year, they had to play a new strategy, they had to do something (to change a previous 6-2 loss to Stanford). But with Boston College, they're having a great season, so they're going to play us even. So we're going to go out and do the same.
Q: You've broken the former Stanford season scoring record and no one even knows about it. Does that bother you?
A: No, I just feel lucky to have great players around me. You just have to think about it with an outside perspective. Will I ever have another opportunity to play with such an amazing player as Kelley? I think that playing with her is part of the reason I'm having such a good season, and I would hope that it's vice versa, so it's not a bad thing in any sense.
Q: Are you still learning more about each other on the field?
A: Between last season and this season, Kelley and I have come so far because we played with the (U.S.) U-23s all year. We had five camps together, playing against each other. And all summer we played on a semipro team together, the Pali Blues in L.A. and I think that made a big difference. But we've switched the lineup with Courtney (Verloo) up front now. We're still learning about her. But I think when I watch Kelley play, I would guess about 80 percent of the time I know where she wants the ball or what she wants to do or where she wants me to be.
A few comments from Paul Ratcliffe:
"I think the team's in a good place. There are a lot of different players stepping up. It's a case of who's stepping up in any individual game, because we have so many players who have improved through the year.
"We're just trying to play our best soccer, play good possession soccer. Create a lot of opportunities and finish our chances.
"We're not looking past any opponent. We've been one game at a time, the whole year. It's another important game that we've got to win."