Dec. 3, 2009

NCAA PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES:
AGGIE SOCCER STADIUM • COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2009

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UCLA

HEAD COACH JILLIAN ELLIS


opening statement...

"We are thrilled to be here and excited to participate in another College Cup. We love this venue. This final group of teams is going to present an exciting weekend of soccer. Obviously, we're proud that two Pac-10 teams are here. Unfortunately, only one of us will advance. We are very proud of our conference and our progress  through the season thus far."

on the feeling after losing at North Carolina in the season opener...

"I just felt the best way to prepare for Carolina is to play them. To just get them on the schedule, I was happy. It didn't go the way we planned. We were pretty young. 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. This year we've grown a lot tactically freshman and palyers step into new roles and chemistry i think we gel well."

on making seven final fours 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. I guess I'd ask someone like (UNC Coach) Anson (Dorrance). He's won so many, but i'm sure every year it's a different journey, and he's excited to be in that journey and that show. At the beginning I wasn't sure of this team's potential, but my confidence in them has grown through the performances i've seen this year."

on this year's field...

"My experience has taught me that when you get here, it's anyone's game. I really truly believe that. I think we've been playing well. I think 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. Relish the opportunity, soak it all in, and really make the most of your experience. Enjoy it and have fun. The players certainly put pressure on themselves, but I dont think we feel external pressure. It's about us performing to the best of our ability."

on matching up with Stanford...

"We've had tremendous history with them. They have had a fantastic year. Their confidence is high. They have dynamic attacking personalitites. I do think we could have played better. They are a great team and obviously 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 front-line players and our midifeld to get the ball and take the pressure off our back line."

JUNIOR D JENNA BELCHER

on battling injuries through her career and being here at the Cup...

"It's definitely been a journey for me. That makes this year all that more sweeter, having the opportunity to play the whole season and be healthy for the first time in three years. I'm blessed to be healthy and blessed to be a part of this team. I'm so excited to be a part of this team and be able to contribute to a team that's been so successfsul."

on lessons from the previous matchup with Stanford...

"I don't think we change anything. We will do what we've been doing all season long. We've grown a lot this season. It's the most we've grown as a team since i've been here. 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 and the palyers we have around them."

JUNIOR D LAUREN BARNES

on being back at the College Cup...

"I'm thrilled to be here. We can't dwell on the past. It's a whole new era and a new final four. We're really excited."

on lessons from the Stanford match...

"I don't think we'll change very much. We didn't play as well as we could have the first time. Hoepfully things will come out a lot better this time."

NORTH CAROLINA

HEAD COACH ANSON DORRANCE

opening statement...

"Obviously we're absolutely thrilled to be here. The girls know this, but this is the ultimate soccer party for our sport. You want to be at the party, and we're here. We're thrilled to be in such a powerful field. We're looking forward to the weekend."

on the field being the same as last year, and the teams' differences...


"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 goal scorers all over the place. You can't shut down one player and shut them down. They are a very strong team. All of us have athletes that are capable of taking games over. You can't write anyone off. These four teams are all veteran teams in this event. I'm not sure how many College Cups UCLA has been to in a row, but they have a nice run. Notre Dame is a perennial contender for a championship. All the other teams have the weapons to compete effectively for the title."

on reaching the College Cup...

"It's a tremendous hurdle to actually get here. If you think about how other sports get to the finals, the NBA and Major League Baseball have series for advancement. 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 don't think anyone takes for granted the fact that we are
here. It's a tremendous achievement. I tip my hat to (UCLA coach) Jillian (Ellis) and her kids for what they've managed over the last seven years. You want to be at the party. It's a lot of fun to be at this event. Even though we've certainly been here quite a few times, it's a tremendous thrill every time we make it back to the College Cup. I cant sleep the
night after we qualify to get here. I'm so excited, and its the truth."

on the Notre Dame match and taking anything from it...

"No, you can't really. What I would rather do 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 other
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. If you play elite teams in the regular season on a regular basis and as often as possible, over the course of four years your kids are battle tested. We always try to play the toughest schedule in the country and this year was no exception. (If you do that) over the course of four years the kids will just get better and better."

SENIOR D WHITNEY ENGEN
on the familiarity and consistency of the defense...


"I'd say we're pretty comfortable. We do play almost every minute of every game together. We know each other's strengths and weaknesses. It's been really helpful, and it helps to know the others so well. 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. I love playing with those girls."

SENIOR GK ASHLYN HARRIS

on taking anything from the early match against Notre Dame...


"No. I think obviously we're two totally different teams at this point in the season. You can't sit here and say that it will be the same result, because it's not. We've had time to rebuild. We both have taken knocks and both have had success. It's going to be completely different. You can't think it's going to be the same as at the beginning of the regular season, (because) that's not realistic."

JUNIOR M MEGHAN KLINGENBERG

on missing the '08 College Cup while being at the U20s...

"Actually 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. It was really awesome because I formed a great bond with the 20s as well. But this team is my family. Watching (UNC) win and doing well was just amazing. It was quite an interesting experience but I don't think I'd give it up. This is my first College Cup. My freshman year we didn't make it, and last year I wasn't there, so I'm like a little kid in a candy shop right now."

STANFORD

HEAD COACH PAUL RATCLIFFE

opening statement...

"We're excited to be back to the final four and we're looking forward to strong competition."

on preparation standpoint and knowing UCLA so well...


"We're more focusing on us, that we want to play to the best of our ability, but yeah, we know UCLA is a strong team and we've studied them and played them before. They are a good team and have a lot of good players. Jillian is a great coach, they are a quality team and we're going to have to play our best."

on being undefeated....

"Now you're in the playoffs and you have to win to keep going on. So everyone as the same burden - win and stay, or lose and go home."

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 difference of this team to last final four team


We're just more experienced. The most important thing is the leadership is there and the experience. We've been here before so we know what it takes."

on the weather...


"The field looks great so we're hoping it's going to be able to take a little bit of rain and if it snows, but we've come this far, 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 to this team year. She's 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. Yes, she's been a fantastic player and I think she's probably the best college soccer player in the women's team."

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."

on going undefeated being a state goal...

"It's stated. Our mentality, even last season, was to take one game at a time. We don't look ahead and we're focused on that game. The game plan is to win, so that has led to an undefeated season."

JUNIOR FORWARD CHRISTEN PRESS

on last year, looking ahead to this season...


"As soon as we walked off the field, that was everyone's mentality. At this point we're not looking back, we're here now and it's our moment."

SENIOR DEFENDER ALI RILEY

on defeating Stanford earlier in the season...


"It's nice knowing that we've beaten them before this year, but postseason everything is different. It's been a while now since that game and I think we've improved and I'm sure they've improved. Both teams are going to bring it because it's the Final Four, so it's a different game now."

on young players on the team...


"They've done great this far. They know what it takes and they've played at high levels. They are ready. They've been great leaders themselves. Yes, we have three captains,but everyone on the field is a leader and they want to win. 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."

NOTRE DAME

HEAD COACH RANDY WALDRUM

opening statement...

"On behalf of Notre Dame we're happy to be back. As a Texan, I'm glad to be back home."

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

"I said let's get ready for Wisconsin on Sunday. You forget those kinds of games and just move on. I think the thing that we really felt strongly about was that we had enough talent to make it back. I think 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. It was one of those things as a coach, 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. I think it probably took a little longer due to the injuries; we had to get through that stretch of figuring it out. The approach we've tried to take is that that game is unimportant and not a factor at where we are now. We're taking the approach that North Carolina happens to be the next team on our schedule. It wouldn't matter if that was Carolina, UCLA or Stanford. That's the approach we've taken all year.

on when the team solidified a game lineup...

"We felt like we had to make the move with Lauren 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 mad 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 had won some games after those early losses, but we hadn't played particularly well.  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...

"It's been a big plus. We've had four or five players who've really done a good job of carrying the load for us through some of these injuries. 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. She did a great job for us in five or six games before we really got Haley back."

on getting past North Carolina...

What a lot of people may not realize is it was 2006 when they beat us in the championship game and we've played them five or six times. I think we're 2-2-1 against them. We've probably been as good with Carolina as anybody in the country, so it's not like Carolina is at a level we're not. I don't think we have that kind of a perception of them.

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 college cup...

"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 on the field...

"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."

on team and how they're playing...

As the seasons continues to progress, we've gotten better as a team and we've gotten better individually. I'm sure excited about the way we're playing right now.

on getting past North Carolina...

"This is another game that we have to get to to reach our goal and that we have to win. There's always an excitement when you play Carolina, but it's not hard to get up for a game like this."

on having many players from the National team in one setting...

"It's like seeing old friends. It's always great to see someone you haven't seen in a long time, but the focus is the College Cup. It's an added plus but nothing that's on your mind when you're getting ready to play the game. It's exciting to be back in this setting at the College Cup."

JUNIOR FORWARD MELLISSA HENDERSON


on having Lauren Flowlkes as a forward...

"I really enjoy playing with her, because as you know she's a goal scorer and she makes plays happen all the time. It definitely takes a lot off having her there and supporting me and taking things on."

on getting past North Carolina...

"I'm honestly probably  going to go into the game not really thinking about who we're playing against, but just worrying about getting my game right and getting my preparation where it needs to be."

on being in Texas...

"I have my family and so many of my friends coming and I'm just excited to be able to play in front of them."

SENIOR 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, so it's awesome having her back."

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."

on getting past North Carolina...

"When you get to the College Cup, all teams are going to be the top teams in the nation. I think of it more that this is the national semifinal to get to the national championship game and that's the mentality and focus you need to have when you're going in."

About being in Texas...

"It's nice to be at a place that you recognize and know really well. It's almost like being home again. It's really nice and I have friends and family coming too, so it will be good support."