bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the opening weekend against UTEP and Texas Tech?
Blair Quinn: It was a good weekend in terms of playing two challenging opponents on the road. I like starting that way, I think you find out where you're at right off the bat and how good you are and definitely what you need to work on.
We did a good job of riding the momentum in the UTEP game. Of course it was their first home game and they had a good crowd there so they were kind of jacked up a little bit and we did a good job of taking them out of that in the first half. I thought we battled with them evenly in the first half. I wasn't thrilled with how we started the second half of the UTEP game. I thought we came out too tentative. We were content with letting them control the pace of the game for probably about 20 to 25 minutes in the second half before we started evening things out. The free kick goal that the girl scored was a nice goal. They got a second one on a free kick but at that point there's less than 15 minutes left in the game when we're already pushing for another goal.
I thought the girls did a great job mentally of bouncing back and being ready to play at Texas Tech which is a fantastic program. Another great atmosphere in terms of the facility itself and the fans they have there. That's a big, fast team and I thought we played even better against Texas Tech than we did against UTEP. I thought the back line was much stronger. I thought the midfield did a nice job of adjusting to their midfield which is kind of their strengths in terms of the way they play their system. They play a unique midfield system. I thought we did a good job of handling them.
There are no moral victories. We're disappointed that we lost but looking back, a 1-0 loss to Texas Tech early in the year is only going to make us better as we go down the road.
bc.net: What were some of the things you saw in the UTEP match, things that you felt your team needed to work on, that got better in the Texas Tech match?
BQ: I thought our transition. Transitioning from attacking to defending. Transitions are just moments of the game but they're key moments. They're one, two, three second moments just when you lose the ball or just when you gain it back. I thought our transition from attacking to defending was a little to slow in the UTEP game and I thought it was much better in the Texas Tech game. I thought we were much faster once we lost the ball of immediately trying to press the ball and finding our defensive shape again. I thought that's something that improved a lot.
bc.net: Your thoughts on the job by Erin Wosick in the two games.
BQ: I thought Erin was very good on the weekend. She did the things that we asked her to do on a consistent basis. Make the easy ones look easy, no silly drops or fumbles. I think she maybe had some first game jitters at UTEP and she did a couple things that we talked about, nothing that cost us the game or anything like that. Just a couple of goalkeeper mistakes that we discussed. She was very strong at Texas Tech. I've gotten texts from a couple different people that saw the game online that commented on her and how impressed they were with her performance in that game. She was very solid. She did everything she had to do right in that game. We were very happy with her play from the weekend.
bc.net: In that game in the second half she made a nice save on a ball where she came out and had to essentially take the ball away from the Texas Tech player as she was about to take a shot.
BQ: Erin came out, really good timing, got down quick and that was a textbook breakaway save. It's something she knows how to do and that kid was in on her own, they had split our backs as we were pushing forward to try to find a tying goal. Erin came out and smothered it, completely smothered it. She took the ball from the girl's foot, the girl ended up collapsing over her. That's a really solid breakaway save that fires your team up and keeps you in the game when you're down 1-0 like that. You still feel like you have every chance to get in the game.
bc.net: What's your assessment of your midfield play, when we talked last week that was something that you noted would be a big key for you this season. What did you see from them that you liked and what did you see from them that they need to work on?
BQ: I think from the first game to the second game there was tremendous improvement. The funny thing is, Texas Tech is a bit of a stronger opponent than UTEP and that's no disrespect to UTEP, they're very good but we were just better in the second game. I think it just took us playing somebody else, it took us playing a second game to figure out what we needed to do at game speed. You can play scrimmages and practice every day but until you play a game you don't really know. I think our midfield, the transition was way faster from the first game to the second game. They started looking for specific timing and specific runs that our forwards do and our mids do for each other. They were looking for those a little bit better in the second game. I think just as a whole, everybody that played in the midfield, our defending as a whole was better. That was a big piece. Our midfield defending was much better. We weren't relying so much on our backs to come up and cover every time we turned the ball over. It was the midfield coming up and applying pressure right away so I thought that was a lot better as well.
bc.net: Overall, the team as a whole in applying the new system that you're teaching them, what was your assessment of the team's performance?
BQ: I'm proud of the weekend overall. Again, nobody wants to be 0-2 and I'm not sitting here at my desk smiling and happy. I'm not because we're 0-2 and that's not where we wanted to be but from a coaching perspective and looking at the big picture, we got a lot better this weekend. We needed to play games like that against opponents like that to show us what we were capable of really. I think that's a big part. I don't know if the girls really realize what they were capable of. Then also it showed us some of our weaknesses and what we need to improve on. I think it was a positive weekend overall. We were in both games until the last whistle and that's important to know that you have a chance to be in each game all the way until the final whistle blows. That's going to pay off down the line when we get into other games where we're playing agains tough opponents and it's tight to the very end. We know we can play in that type of environment. Overall it was a positive weekend. I'm very proud of the effort we put forth and I'm happy with a lot of the things we did. My staff and I sat down and we had a meeting at lunch today and we have a list of about 10 or 12 things that we make sure we hit in practice that we need to get better at, things from this last weekend that we specifically need to get better at.
bc.net: Heading into this weekend, what are some of the things that are most important for you to see improvement in this weekend?
BQ: We've got to be better in the attacking third of the field. We've got to be a little bit more willing to be selfish and greedy. Those are words that typically have negative connotations to them but if yore a forward they don't. If you can get a ball and score a goal then get a ball and score a goal. That's something we need to be better at. It's not just our forwards, it's anybody that has an opportunity to take a shot. I think we were looking for that final pass a little too often. There's no such thing as a perfect goal. You've just got to hit it every once in a while and see what you get. That's something that we're going to spend a lot of time on this week, attacking work in the final third and our team building up through the midfield into the attack.
There's some small defensive miscues that we need to correct and those just come with repetition and communication. We'll work on that as well.
I think the big piece going into this weekend is we've got to generate more of an attack. We've got to generate more than five or six shots in a game and quite frankly we've got to get some corner kicks. We've got zero corner kicks in two games and that stat itself tells you that you're not putting enough pressure on the other team's back line. You're not making them have to block shots and play against their own end line and we need to start doing that.
bc.net: What's your assessment of some of the freshmen that played for you this weekend?
BQ: I think the freshmen were very good. We only used three subs total in the UTEP game, that was just kind of the way the pace of the game an the rhythm was going, there wasn't a need to sub a lot. We used a lot more people on Sunday night. Even though it was just as tough of a game, if not a little tougher, we were able to get more people involved in the game because of the way we were playing.
Katie Smith was very good. I thought Kay Kay (Katelynn Tupponce) was very good on Friday night, she looked a little bit fatigued on Sunday but was still good. She just didn't quite have the pop she had on Friday night but she was still good. Amber Harrington was much better on Sunday, she was quite good. I think she had first game jitters which was to be expected and then on Sunday night she was really good. Alexys Brownell, she only played 10 minutes last night at the end of the game but did a great job. We're very happy with her. To be able to get 10 minutes in a game of that magnitude, in a 1-0 game where we're trying to push for a goal, we put her in the back, we had gone from four backs to three backs, she handled it pretty well. Hopefully that gave her some confidence. We're looking for some more things out of her as well. Those are some good freshmen performances.
bc.net: How important was it for your team to get their first travel out of the way in the first weekend, especially with a bit of a young group? There are always firsts every season but to be able to get your first true road trip done in the first weekend.
BQ: I think it's huge. I honestly would rather start the season away and against tough opponents like that because if you start out like that, in theory everything else should be a little bit easier after that. You come home, that should always be a little bit easier because you're at home. It doesn't mean the game itself will be easier but the environment is obviously more friendly.
I think they had over 1,700 at UTEP on Friday night, they had over 1,200 at Texas Tech on Sunday. It was freshman move-in day and it felt like every freshman that goes there was there at the game. It was really loud and hostile environment, hostile in a soccer sense. They were really good environments, just not friendly to us. I think those kids being able to play in those environments in 1-0 games and 2-0 games and 0-0 for a long time at UTEP, that's going to go a long way because when we come home and we have a little bit more vocal support, it's easier to be pushed on when people are cheering for you. I'd much rather start the season away two places like that than at home. I think it helps you get a little bit mentally tougher right off the bat.