Dec. 1, 2011
KENNESAW, Ga. (seminoles.com) – The Florida State Women’s Soccer team arrived in Kennesaw, Ga., on Wednesday evening in preparation for the 2011 College Cup. The Seminoles will face the Stanford Cardinal in the first semifinal match Friday evening at 5:00 p.m. at the KSU Soccer Stadium.
Thursday kicked off the festivities for this year’s College Cup as members of all four teams participated in a pre-tournament press conference, practice and interviews with the talent staff from ESPN – Beth Mowins, Julie Foudy and Monica Gonzalez. Later this evening, all four teams will gather at the championship banquet which will be held at The Brickyard at Marietta.
Below is a transcript from today’s press conference featuring Florida State head coach Mark Krikorian, senior midfielder Tori Huster, senior defender Toni Pressley and redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Kelsey Wys.
Seminoles.com was also on hand to grab footage from today’s press conference and afternoon practice as Florida State makes its final preparations for Stanford.
Check back with Seminoles.com later this evening for more footage from Thursday night’s banquet.
NCAA Press Conference Quotes
December 1, 2011
Head Coach Mark Krikorian
Thoughts on the tournament
It’s obviously a thrill to be back here and playing for the College Cup. I don’t know that it’s possible for a field to be in better shape, and a venue to be better than what we see out here. The folks at Kennesaw have done a great job. We are excited to play. I know that all four teams that are here are highly competitive. You just don’t get to this stage of the season if you’re not. Tomorrow night will be a great evening of quality soccer and two great semifinal games.
On the style of the game
I think your observations there are pretty accurate and pretty close to what some of our observations are as well. We have a great deal of respect for Stanford’s playing style and know that they are a rhythm team and that they have a lot of talent all over the field, but our feeling is that we have a great deal of talent and that we are able to keep the ball and make the game look beautiful, so it will be interesting to see who can impose their will on the game more. I think that will certainly be a part of the challenge on the day to not only win the ball but to keep hold of the ball and create some different scoring opportunities in different ways. So, we all sit here and we all hope that it will be the beautiful game, but we also know that when you have players as committed to winning as both teams do that it will be about fighting, and competing, and challenging one another in different ways. We will just have to wait and see how it unfolds.
On added pressure of playing a top-rated, undefeated Stanford team
I don’t think so. My most capable sports information director Jason Leturmy has pointed out to me that we have had 25 games and 20 have been against NCAA tournament teams, so I think that we are battle tested with that background. Certainly, we know Stanford’s quality, but we also know Virginia’s quality, and we know Wake Forest’s quality, and Duke’s quality and all these other teams that we have had the opportunity to compete against. Certainly Stanford is an exceptional team, but we think we have played a lot of exceptional teams up to this point.
On midseason position in ACC standings and team turnaround
I think that the players will tell you that even when we not finding victory, the message that we were giving to our team was that “We are playing fine. We just have to eliminate some of these smaller mistakes and capitalize on some of the opportunities that we are getting.” I don’t know; I have said this a number of times, but I don’t know if there has been a game all season where after the game we felt like we were played off the park or that the other team was better than we were. Certainly, they were able to score goals when we weren’t and they were able to get win on some of those days but I think our group showed a great deal of character. It would have been very easy for people within out group to start pointing fingers and blaming one another, blaming the staff, or whoever it is when we are giving up goals. I think that, for the most part, we weathered that storm and listened to what the players had to say. They listened to what we had to say and worked together to find solutions. We made a few small adjustments here and there. With some of the bad luck that we had earlier in the year, it turned into good luck as the season went on, and we hope that continues.
On the strength of the ACC
I think this season the ACC has certainly showed it is a quality conference to the world of women’s soccer, but I don’t think any of us that are sitting in the ACC are going to look and say that Stanford isn’t a team that deserves to be here. For us, we look at Duke and we have great respect for them, and with Wake we have great respect. I can tell you that Boston College could be here; Virginia could be here; Maryland could be here. I think there is a collection of teams and many outside of the ACC, Penn State and many others. I think that certainly we look at it in a way that we are happy for the ACC and recognize the quality of the teams there. We are thrilled that the ACC has three representatives here. Quite honestly, we don’t want to make a bigger deal out of it than it is. We think that there are four very good teams here, and it just so happens that at this point there are three that are playing the ACC. I think our conference is much deeper than three teams, but I also think there is a great deal of quality throughout the country.
On international players
We think, especially in the world of soccer, that it’s the world game. There are outstanding student-athletes in this country; there are outstanding student-athletes in France, and Iceland, and throughout the world. We don’t limit our scope of recruiting to a simply domestic player. While we are thrilled to have the quality of Tori, and Toni, and Kelsey, and many of these other top quality kids, we think that it is the world game. If there is a young woman out there that is keen for an education here in the U.S. and does have the quality of soccer that we are looking for, and is willing to come and be a good teammate and good contributor to the community, then the door may be open for them. What I can tell you is Tori Huster, Toni Pressley, and Kelsey Wys are better players and better people since spending time with these international kids as they have.
On the defense and goalkeepers
All of us would agree that defending in the modern game is about collective defending. It’s no longer just to have good defenders and a goalkeeper; it’s about team shape and starting to defend high up on the field with your front players. When you talk about our backline and our goalkeepers, I think that there is no one in the country that is a collection of pure athletes that have a very good idea about the game where their quality with the ball is as good as their quality athletically. Kelsey is sure handed and as good of a goalkeeper as I have come across. I think she has a bright future, and I think the women’s national team is in that future at some point. Right now I think that when we talk about our team defending, I think that Kelsey and the defenders will certainly give a great deal of the credit to the quality of pressure on the ball that is going on higher-up on the field than simply their individual match-ups.
On Kelsey Wys as a goalkeeper
When I recruited Kelsey a long time ago, one of the things that I saw was a kid who was very consistent in her approach to the game. She is very consistent in training. Her focus is always there, and she is very reliable. It is a situation where we know what we are going to get from her. She has done a great deal of work on her kicking game which is evident. Goalkeeper coach Mike Bristol has done just great work with her, and I think that our other goalkeepers have also working together have also raised the level. Kelsey has a lot of positive qualities.
On scouting report in preparation for Stanford
The main focus that we have is on the last three or four games. Certainly we do take some view back into what’s gone on in the past. I think you are absolutely right. The implication is that we are a whole lot different team this year. This year the game is here as opposed to being out there. In terms of putting this scouting report together, it is very much like every other game we have looked at; the qualities individually and the qualities collectively. Where do we think that we are going to be able to expose them in different match-ups of different situations? Is there something in there that is a small detail to make the difference between finding a win or not.
On improvements from the regular season up to now
I think that we have become much more stingy in our defending in not just giving up goals but in giving up chances. I think in our game against Virginia, and make no mistake that Virginia is a great team, I think that they had two shots on goal in the first half and one in the second half. To limit a team of their caliber and to answer your questions, I think we have become a very stingy team in not only giving up goals but in giving up chances. The statistics I have may certainly be skewed if you look at the numbers, but they had three really good looks in the game. For a team of that quality to only have three good is really good. What we know is that if we keep giving good teams chances at your goal, eventually they are going to score. For us to be able to limit the number of chances that teams are getting against us is quite important to us. For me it’s about quality chances and becoming a lot more precise in our positions in and around the penalty box.
On quality possessions offensively
That is the goal. We are certainly looking to make sure that when we get into dangerous situations and we’re making dangerous plays, it doesn’t do you any good if you get into a dangerous position on the end line and kick the ball out of bound or when you get into a dangerous position on the end line and kick it to the goalkeepers hands. If you get into a position where you can kick it off them and get a corner kick, now you have created another dangerous situation. When we get into those situations, that’s when we have to be the most precise with the quality of the ball and the quality of our runs.
On Tiffany McCarty’s return after last season’s injury
Tiff’s recovery has been 100 percent. Her quality and her drive to score goals is fantastic. Tiff McCarty breathes to score goals. That’s her passion, that’s her interest, that’s her drive to score goals. She is very, very committed to creating chances to score goals. Certainly not having Jess and Tiff last year was a little bit challenging for us, but I look at it and think we had two All-American quality players red-shirting the year. As we sit here today answering your questions about last year versus this year, for us it is not really so relevant but I know that you have to ask the questions and we have to answer the questions. I think Tiff McCarty is playing a very, very high level right now.
On handling the nerves on such a big stage
I think we all have that kind of in the back of our minds. Since it is a big stage, I am sure that there will be a huge crowd out there. But as long as we know that we have each other’s back, no matter what happens, we’re all going to have each other’s back. It’s kind of how we have been all season. If we stick with that game plan, we are going to be fine.
On take a ways from playing with international players
They bring so much personality to our team, and it’s not even so much the soccer. They bring outside culture that a lot of other teams don’t get to experience. I know that it’s great to have Janice Cayman from Belgium and Ines Jaurena from France and all of the other ones. To have those connections throughout the world is something I look to the future and something that I can eventually take advantage of almost. I know that it is great to have them here, and they do bring so much to our team on the field and so much off the field.
On extra motivation this year following last year’s quarter final finish
It might be. I think I have kind of pushed that out of my mind because it was a little bit heartbreaking. Like Mark said, we are two different teams this year. We have played two different seasons. We have gone through this season with different players on our team. I think the difference between last year and this year is the players that we have had, how much we have had to fight through the tough regular season schedule and what we have had to do in the last couple of games. I don’t know if we are really thinking too much about what happened last year.
On threat Stanford poses defensively
I think just having them be a good team all-around. They have depth from front to back. I know they have a collection of fast-paced people up front with [Chioma Ubogagu] and Lyndsay Taylor. I think, as Mark said, defending for us is going to start higher up on the field, making it easy for us and Kelsey. I think through communication we can solve a lot of problems through that. I think if we are just focused, we should be good.
On the team’s defensive play through the current unbeaten streak
Definitely, on the steak, they have made my job a lot easier, and I think that like Toni mentioned before, communication has been a big part of that because I have been focusing on that throughout the season. I think that now is a good time for it to come in handy. Like Mark said, “limiting their chances,” and I think communication is a big part of that. Everyone working together and Toni communicating with Tiana (Brockway), and Tiana is one of the best communicators. At the end of the day, I think that solves a lot of problems for us.
On conference championship and penalty kick saves
We work on them in practice and stuff, so I’m just glad that when I was called on I could save them for my team. I mean I definitely have some confidence from that, but I think penalty kicks are a lot different from regular game situations. If we get in that situation again, I will be confident. But, I think it is a lot different.
On Mike Bristol helping her improve as a goalkeeper
I feel really lucky to have him as a goalkeeper coach and I think that he is one of the best. We really just break down every part of the game and every part of my job as a goalkeeper and just each day focus on a different part until I get that down. Like [Coach Mark Krikorian] said, my kicking game as gotten a lot better and just every part of my game has improved. We have spent a lot of time together, and I am so thankful to have a coach like him.