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Head Coach Bob Warming Opening Statement
Thank you for coming today. Our team is prepared and excited for a fantastic season filled with a lot of challenges. We start off with a big one, going out to play Stanford. Stanford won the National Championship, winning their final game 4-0 last year and didn’t give up a goal in the College Cup. They have a fantastic team, I think they were behind a total of 15 minutes at home last year and they are 19-1-5 in their last 25 matches at home. It will be a great match for us and a great environment.
Q: Speaking of that trip to California, you mentioned how good Stanford is and then you face California, how excited are you and the guys to get out there and really get the season started against competition that is that tough? You get one of the hardest teams out of the way first, but to go against a team that tough, what do you expect to see out of your guys?
Coach Warming: What I see from my perspective is the metrics from our fitness are the best that they have been. We had guys break the fitness record this year and a lot of guys had personal-bests including Connor (Maloney) and Robby (Sagel). As short as our training time is before you have to play that match, the number one thing is how fit the guys are and how fit they are is an indication of how good their attitude is in preparation for a season. Guys who come in super fit are mentally prepared for a season, they are mentally prepared for a challenge. In our sport you have to self-train a lot and they have had the self-discipline to do that and that makes me excited for the season.
Connor Maloney: Rob (Sagel) and myself came in pretty fit. We were talking all summer about business. This is our senior year so this is the year to do it. We have a lot of transfers in now and some of the younger guys got a lot of experience last year playing and we had some guys come in in the spring. Going to Stanford, we have been itching to go there the entire time since we heard about it. We are ready to do it. Most of the guys came in fit like coach said and that makes it easier on him to get us into training sessions and go as long as long as we possibly can and fix what we need to. In our two preseason games this year we played excellent. I think the guys are really excited to go out to California and play Stanford and Cal, who are the two best teams in the country you could say, and hopefully get results out there.
Q: You guys had a trip to Canada this summer. How did that get prompted and what was the experience like?
Coach Warming: I can give you the prompted part and the guys can tell you about the experience. I think one of the wonderful things that the NCAA has is that once every four years you can take a foreign tour. Remarkably, the majority of our team had never been to Canada. There are not many foreign countries you can drive to, but this place was a great place to drive to to have a different cultural experience. Certainly Montreal was a remarkable cultural experience, it is as close to being in France as you can get and we were there during St. Jean Baptiste Day which is like their Fourth of July for Quebec. It is a huge event with concerts, parades, a lot of funny parades and a lot of things going on. So there was a real cultural experience associated with that but we also got an opportunity by the NCAA to train 10 times prior to that so I think we honed a little bit of the progress we made over the spring by playing some pro teams and having those 10 days of training. We played some professional organizations while we were in Canada too and for me I wanted our guys tested against some good teams.
Robby Sagel: It was a fantastic opportunity in my opinion to get together at the mid-point of the summer because it is not something you get to do every year obviously. We played good teams, but I think really above all else to be relaxed and to play and to bond as a team is huge. We had a ton of fun. I wish we could do it every year to be honest.
Connor Maloney: Also Stanford was probably still training and still in school. So we thought why not, they are training right now so we should too. We need to match what they are doing and why not. We had a lot of fun down there, it was a great bonding experience. I am glad we were able to do it. All the guys are really tight now so we are ready to go.
Bob Warming: Stanford trains until June because they have a different academic calendar than us.
Q: Obviously Connor you’re pretty talented, but where else is the scoring going to be coming from this year?
Connor Maloney: We also have a transfer from Tulsa, Aymar Sigue. He is on the Canadian National Team as well as Dayonn (Harris) up top. Those two are goal scoring machines. They are very dangerous. We also have Robby (Sagel) in the back, this guy is going to win a lot of headers for us, we can count on him for that. We also have Dani Marks to do that. We have guys on the wings like Pierre (Reedy), Austin (Maloney) and Sam Bollinger. Sam has always been pretty good for us. He has a knack for scoring goals. He is always around the box and always at the right spot at the right time. So we have Austin and Pierre on the wings as well for us and are very dangerous. I think goals can come from anywhere for us all over the field. Guys have played different positions and know what it’s like so I think it could come from all over the field and hopefully we give that to the fans.
Robby Sagel: I think we will have some headliners, but I could name all 28 guys if you want me to and let you know who is going to do well this year. Its good.
Q: One of your freshman has a pretty recognizable name around here. How has Brandon Hackenberg acclimated himself to the team and to the campus?
Coach Warming: Brandon is a great student who was able to graduate high school early. He actually came this past spring. He is coming off a couple of knee injuries but I think he is regaining his form. He has some great qualities and is a very powerful player. He is terrific in the air, maybe one of our best players in the air if not the best in terms of consistency. Some guys are great at attacking headers and some are great at defending headers but very few guys are good at both and he is good at both of those things. He is left-footed and God just didn’t make enough left-footed players. There is a left side and a right side of the field so he is a valuable asset in that. Usually guys who are left-footed really have a chance to make an impact with the team because there are so few of them that are good.
Q: I heard Sam Bollinger’s name mentioned a few minutes ago. Bob, can you talk about Sam’s progress and what you expect out of him this season?
Coach Warming: Sam to me is one of the best stories in State College. He is a guy who didn’t think he was good enough, no one thought he was good enough coming out of high school. He went through a very tragic experience in his family with his mother having cancer and really quit playing soccer for a while, but he ran, he ran like crazy. One of the first things we do at walk-on tryouts is we have a fitness test and the other guys that were trying out were pretty fit but there was one guy who was lapping them all. The other guys were not ‘Sam fit.’ Sam is a different level of fitness and its remarkable. He is a brilliant student. He has so many different things. He is working on a project right now with protein. They are injecting florescent protein into individual cells to work on transfer of medicines into individual cells for people to help them recover from some terrible illnesses. I had to have him explain it to me about four times before I kind of understood what he was doing but that is the synopsis of it. He is a brilliant student, great kid, great story, worked hard as heck on his skills and his attitude is infectious every day. He comes ready to go. He is sleeping five hours a night because he is up late studying and he comes with a ‘hey let’s go’ attitude every day. For a local guy to do that and to be that guy and become a scholarship player at Penn State in our sport is pretty cool thing.
Q: Considering how the season ended last year, 7-8-3, what are your expectations for the upcoming season?
Connor Maloney: We are going to take it game by game obviously. We are going to start off with Stanford who is not going to be an easy opponent. We are ready to go and we know the expectations were not as good last year. We set goals and we are going to try and meet those goals, but every guys have to be all in. That is our motto this year ‘All in’ and we have it up in our locker room. We have the reason why every guy is all in this year on our lockers. As long as we are all ‘all in’ the expectations are going to be very high for this team and we have a lot of talent. I am expecting Final Four, College Cup, that’s where I want to be at the end of the season. It is our senior year and I think we can do it.
Coach Warming: We basically went on a remarkable run, the longest time being in first place in the Big Ten history for us from Oct. 2012-Nov. 2014. During that time period, I think the most dangerous thing that can happen to a team or an athlete happened. That was that they got satisfied and they didn’t really put in the effort that we needed to do before. It was the worst spring that I think I have ever had in collegiate soccer with a team. It was awful. The guys learned something from that I think and what we did was ask what all in meant to them. Every one of our guys wrote a statement of what ‘all in’ meant to them and we put their picture with that statement on their locker. We had everyone collectively with their statement and picture and put it on a huge poster and hung it in the locker room. It’s a daily reminder that we are not satisfied. We are all in every single day and every single way.