bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the last four games, all four were wins and you've now strung together six in a row.
Blair Quinn: The last four games have been good. The girls, the team is starting to understand more and more the system and we're starting to get more consistent good play out of everyone as a group. I think specifically the last two Friday games have been very good. We were very good on Friday night in Alabama two weeks ago and we were very good this last Friday night. We're still trying to put together that really great weekend where we're good on Sunday as well. I think right now we've been good enough on Sunday but we've discussed with the team that we know we can be better on Sundays.
bc.net: On Friday night you get a last-minute goal with the score tied 0-0 to get the win over Northern Colorado.
BQ: That was really exciting. To be completely honest it was absolutely deserved. We really really played well Friday night. Our midfield did a great job of applying pressure and breaking their midfield down. Our forwards were constantly running at the goal. Our backs did a great job of handling two or three great players that they had and for Mary Kate to get the goal with 20 seconds left added a little extra excitement to it, probably a little more than I needed for myself but it was certainly exciting for everyone there.
bc.net: You followed that up with a 3-0 victory on Sunday over Arkansas-Little Rock.
BQ: Sunday was kind of an awkward game. We actually weren't that good in the first half. We got outshot for the first time in a long time in the first half but we scored two great goals. Both came directly off of the amount of pressure applied by our forwards. We caused the other team to turn the ball over into our midfield. The first ball, Katie Smith got the ball and off of a pressure turnover from a forward, they turned the ball over to Katie and Katie beat the defender down the line, served the ball in the box and Jennae Cambra one-timed a volley into the side netting which was great. The second goal was much of the same, we pressed their back line and they turned the ball over to Daisy Hernandez in the midfield who quickly sent a ball across the field to Jennae and she one-timed this ball far post. It was a great goal. But the two goals aside, we didn't really play great soccer in the first half and we talked a lot about that at halftime and kind of even got into them a little bit about playing better soccer and we played much much better soccer in the second half and were fortunate enough to get another goal in the last minute and close them out.
bc.net: Defensively you've gotten good performances from your team. You've talked about wanting to build your team from the back forward and you've got five shutouts in your six victories.
BQ: That's been really good, it's been a pleasant thing for us as a staff to see. Sometimes we bend a little bit but we haven't really broken in terms of giving up things that we shouldn't be giving up. Our goal keeper play this weekend was very good. Erin Wosick started and played all 90 minutes on Friday night and Jess Schutter played all 90 minutes on Sunday and both did a great job. The back line as a whole unit was very good on Friday night. We had a little bit of miscommunication issues on Sunday in the first half but we resolved that in the second half and were much better. Megan Hendler specifically, she's been good all year. You don't really see her very much, she's kind of small, very quiet, but she had an outstanding weekend.
bc.net: Megan also got named WAC Defensive Player of the Week for her play. In our conversation for the season preview you talked about her being one of the pleasant surprises when you took over. What makes her a special player?
BQ: In my head she was penciled in somewhere in the attacking midfield and she and I had a conversation over the summer, she was in here mid summer and talked about her ability to play in the back a little bit and I said, "Okay, we'll look at you there." I put her at wide-back the first day of preseason and she nailed that down real fast. She really has been a pleasant surprise and she keeps getting better week after week. She handled, as the whole back line did, but she specifically had a handful to deal with this weekend in terms of the other teams' best players, both pretty much attacking out of their right side forward which is where she's at as the left back. She handled every player they threw at her all weekend very very well. She's just a smart soccer player. She's not the biggest most physical kid, she's not the fastest kid but she's not slow by any means, she has pace but the kids she was defending were faster than her. She's just a smart defender.
bc.net: What does having an experienced back line with Megan, Courtney Irwin, Vanessa Thomas and Elise Nordin do for your defense in particular with helping your two young goal keepers?
BQ: I think it does a lot. I think it helps settle the entire team down. The two sophomore goal keepers have a lot of confidence in knowing who is in front of them and what they can handle and that any attempts at them are going to be pretty limited. I think it helps the people that are in front of the back four, the mids especially, to have a little more confidence and be a little more daring when they're attacking knowing that they have four juniors behind them that have been playing together this whole season and three of them have been together pretty much since their freshman year. I think that helps calm them down and give them a little more confidence in terms of them being able to take some risks going forward knowing that those four back there are pretty solid and have that bend but don't break philosophy back there.
bc.net: You've been getting significant contributions from a pair of freshmen, Katie Smith and more recently Jennae Cambra.
BQ: Absolutely. Katie keeps getting better and better, she's starting to understand her role in that midfielder a little bit better. It's a very different than the role she had in high school and as a club player where she was kind of the focal point and really had to do a lot more to make up for the talent that maybe wasn't necessarily around her. I think now with the talent she has around her she realizes she can kind of simplify her role a little bit. We want her to get the ball and run at defenses because she's very technical. She's got great feet, she's quick and she's got good vision in terms of her ability to pass. As she gets better at connecting those passes she'll be real hard to deal with.
Jennae, the kid can just flat out hit a ball. She's got a great left foot. She's scored three very good goals this year. Two with the left, one with the right but she's also not afraid to get in the air and volley a ball. The kid's 5'1" or 5'2" and she'll get up for balls, she'll hit balls first time across her body. She loves to take people down the line 1-v-1 on that left side. She serves a good ball in for other people and I think as she continues to grow and mature in the system she's going to be much more of a threat as she continues on in her career as well.
bc.net: This weekend you take your kids back out on the road this weekend and face Idaho State and Weber State.
BQ: These are two more good tests. I think these will both be very similar to our Friday night game against Northern Colorado which was a really good, well-played game. From what I hear both teams are going to match our system which any time someone plays the same system as you do it's going to make it a little bit tougher because the match ups are pretty much one for one and there's a little more immediate pressure around you at all times. I think Idaho State tends to be quite a bit tougher at home than they are on the road. They have a unique field that's actually fairly small, I think it's even a little bit smaller than our field when we're playing on the football field. They have a very good home field advantage there and they do very well at home.
Weber State has had a challenging start just based on their schedule and they also haven't been at home yet. We actually on September 18th will be their first home game of the year. We'll be at game 10 and that will be their first home that. That'll make for a challenging environment in and of itself because I think they'll be pretty jacked up to get to finally play a home game.
Both environments will be a challenge for us. That's something we always talk about, being able to win whether we're on the road or at home. We're going to take each game and try to get a road win.
bc.net: You're eight games into the season, you've got four non-conference games left. Where is your team in terms of where you'd hoped they'd be at this point?
BQ: I think we're good. I think we're in a good spot right now. I don't think we're behind at all. I don't think we're miles ahead of where I wanted to be and I don't mean that in a negative light either. It's really been in the last three weeks that they've really started to change as a team and grow. They're figuring out the system and we're playing the system so much more often now. As we have two more weekends our challenge to them has been can we be very good on Friday and be very good on Sunday. I think that's a fairly typical challenge across the board. I know a lot of my coaching colleagues have the same issue with it. Friday night games tend to be very good and Sunday games tend to be bit more of a struggle whether it's fatigue, playing under the lights versus playing in the daytime, it's all those factors but it's something we have to deal with. I think the team has done a very good job up to this point. If we were to stop getting better or stop growing at this point then we'd be in trouble because we are nowhere near where we need to be but if we keep this progress I think we will have the opportunity to do very well come conference play.