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Penn State Head Coach Erica WalshQ: Coach, talk about the performance of your team overall.
A: Well, as I told these guys after the game, I'm greedy and I want to see them at their best. At moments, I thought we were quite good. Too many of those moments were in the second half. I thought the performance in the first half left a lot to be desired. I was much happier in the second half, I thought at times we were really pushing, creating a lot of opportunities. We got a little bit unlucky on some of the goal scoring chances. Overall, the defense was excellent.
Q: Being greedy, did you want more out of some of those crosses?
A: You want to put yourself in situations to score goals and we did time and time again. At the end of the day, games are won and lost on having to put the ball in the back of the net. It doesn't really matter how many chances you have to score, you have to finish them and we did four times. I'm thrilled about that, but I still think it can be better.
Q: Coach, how important is the experience of your seniors in this tournament?
A: As these guys know, we're getting our opponents' best matches. I thought LIU was excellent tonight, their goalkeeper was outstanding. You're going to run up against all sorts of tough situations at this point in the season and you have to have enough experience to overcome those moments. You have to rely on your players. What better players are there to rely on better than Christine, Lexi (Marton), and Maddy (Evans) and all of these seniors. They've been through a lot here, world cups, and a lot of different experiences. I have trouble imagining a situation that they can't handle.
Q: How important is it to have good players outside, like Mallory Weber and Emily Hurd to send in those crosses?
A: We have quite a few wide players this year and I haven't seen that in my time at Penn State. It's been a pleasure to work with a team that has such variety in their attack. Having good wide players allows the central players to be that much more effective. Defenses have to figure out what they're going to deal with at this point. Sometimes it's the wide players that open up lanes for Maya (Hayes) and Christine. Other times it's vice versa, so pick your poison.
Q:Talk about that variety of attack and the depth you have to make those attacks. How important is it to have that depth in this tournament?
A: The run in the tournament is important, but I think getting us here was the most important part of our depth. If you think back to the combinations, my guess is that you didn't see a combination in two consecutive games in October. It's so many players stepping up at different times. I think if you look across the board at the number one seeds, my guess is it's the same situation. They have depth, they can rely on that depth, and that depth steps up for them. I think that the difference is that in the past, we had players that could get out there, now we have players like Mallory Peterson that are getting assists on the second goal, the crucial goal right before halftime. To me, that's good recruiting.
Q: Boston College is a tough opponent. They've tied Stanford and been competitive against other number one seeds. What is your mindset going into this game?
A: That we've already competed with the best. If Stanford is the standard, we know that on Jeffrey what it feels like to play against the best. That's our mindset. If our performance is anything less than the performance that we saw back then, in terms of effort and mindset, the play will be better because we have improved, as Rocky said. In terms of what they need to bring, they already saw it and that's why you play those games early in the season.
Q: You moved Taylor Schram inside today and Mallory Weber outside. What was the idea behind that?
A: We actually prepared those guys for some movement in the front six. The idea was just variety. We felt that it was stale; we didn't feel like anything we were doing was working. There are two approaches. You can continue on with it and make it work or you can spice it up and we did. Sometimes it works; sometimes you look like a bonehead.
A: Before the game, I was really excited and nervous. Once I warm up, all of that nervousness turns into adrenaline. I try to take that nervousness and turn it into something positive. I just feel very happy to be playing in my first NCAA Tournament. Obviously, it's a very high level and I just hope that we keep improving. I know that's what we're going to do from this point on.
Q: How did it feel to get that goal, to get your first NCAA Tournament goal?
A: I feel very good. It's always good for a player to score. It's a personal achievement. That was for this game and on Monday when we practice, it's the past. We need to keep our vision towards the next game.
#17 Whitney ChurchQ: Whitney, talk about the defensive side of the ball. The way these guys played, there were a lot of counter attacks and one-on-one's. How did you guys stay together and keep that shut out?
A: It just takes a lot of communication. We have to make sure that we're all on the same page. I felt for the most part that we did a really good job with that. We have our front screen with our center mid. It just takes a lot of communication to make sure that we keep it all tight and we did really well.
#10 Christine NairnQ: Strong offensive performance all-around, 4 goals by four different players. Talk about your offensive performance today.
A:I think we did well. Four goals. We wanted to score early and often. We didn't come out exactly how we wanted. Four goals from four different players just shows how many weapons we have. We can only improve and we're looking forward to playing Boston College on Friday.
Q: You had a lot of young players step up today. Raquel had a goal, Mallory Peterson had an assist. Talk about how important it is to have these young players step up and have that depth in the tournament.
A: Once we get into the tournament, these freshmen aren't playing like freshman anymore. Rocky hasn't played like a freshman since she stepped on campus. I think they're all playing like sophomores and their freshman years are under their belts. They've gone through big games and stepped up. Rocky has stepped up in tons of games with her assists and goals. I think her and Petey (Mallory Peterson) and CP (Corey Persson) coming off the bench can only give us more weapons and make us more versatile.
Q: Christine, with all the games you've played in the past, is there any pressure in these games for you?
A: There's pressure in every game, we strive to be our absolute best every time we perform. I want to play my absolute best for this team to take us to a new level. My goal is to make the players around me better. That's been my thing between me and the coaches for four years now and I think I'm finally starting to get that. I put pressure on myself to perform to do well for the team.
Q: Christine, can you talk about how your goal developed?
A: I think it was Emily Hurd. She was absolutely dicing people over there. She's been putting a lot of work in practice and it's definitely paying off. She gives us at least ten good ones a game and if we could finish one of them, it would be awesome. We still need to work on finishing and putting away opportunities. We can thank Emily Hurd for putting us in the right place at the right time, it's our fault for not putting it away. Credit goes to her, she had a great game and is the reason why we were so successful today.
LIU Brooklyn Head Coach Tracey BartholomewQ: Talk about how tough it was defending that offense, one of the best offenses in the country.
A: Well right now they are rated number one offense and they're scoring three goals a game, and we knew we needed to try to get lucky with a few misses here and there and bend but not break. I was hopeful that maybe if one hadn't gone in so early we would have came out in the second half maybe down one nothing. But we were down two nothing and we tried to come up and play a little bit. I mean the pace of Penn State players is phenomenal, I don't even think our track kids can keep up with them. Our girls battled hard all the way to end and I'm proud of them and their effort. But Penn State is a quality program and we knew we needed to bring everything we had to be in that game.
Q: Talk about how your goalie was able to stay with the offense for most of the game?
A: Yeah, Jess has done a great job for us. She's great in the air and I was hoping they would hit a few more balls in the air and Jess would clean them up. The ones that they did, she was on them. It's tougher when they're on the ground it's tougher for a keeper, you're trusting everyone else in front of you, and they got a couple goals that way. It's a bit disappointing the way that happened but the number of shots Jess had to face and being in great positions, I knew she would help us keep the game close.
Q: What was your scouting report on Penn State? What factors were you looking at going in tonight?
A: The biggest thing with Penn State is they drive right up the middle and so we tried to force them wide and change the game a little bit and force them into servicing balls in and hopefully we'd be in good spots to clear a lot of them away. After watching quite a few games they score right up the middle so that was part of our initial game plan. We did do a good job of forcing them wide we just didn't get good clearances on some of those, and they're just a quality size, tons of numbers coming at you consistently.
Q: When you're facing on offense like that, how do you turn that around and generate offense when you're being attacked so much?
A: We had a couple quick chances early on, and we didn't want to bring everybody back and just sit in the box. We were hopeful that we would defend well when the ball came, we came out we just had some missed times and we could have countered a little bit better, a little bit quicker. When we first got it I think we could have gotten it in a couple more times, and that's what we were trying to do and the girls did a good job executing that. I would like a get a couple more shots on goals, maybe slip one by but it's just a great defensive team as well, just great all the way around.
Goalkeeper Jessica SextonQ: How do you try and keep track of all the players on the field?
A: Well it was a little more difficult this game because Penn State just had so many numbers coming up again and again. But I thought we held our ground for a little while, and they just kept beating us on crosses so we tried to figure out different ways to get at them and get numbers up. They're a very good offensive team and they did a good job.
Q: How frustrating was that last goal to stop Maya on that first shot but to give up some rebounds?
A: It was difficult, I always hope I can hold onto things but she's a very good player and we just needed to work on getting behind the ball a little bit better. They just kept attacking again and again; their pace did not slow down the entire game. The got tired, we got tired a little bit but they kept pushing through so they were able to win those second balls.
Q: Talk a little bit about your season. It started off a little slow, 2-6, and then you guys picked it up during conference.
A: Obviously we're very proud of the program and getting back here twice and having an opportunity to come play Penn State. Here on, the effort that they put in started from our senior class and that's one of the things at the end of the game, like at the end of this, it's hard to say goodbye to those kids who pulled through when we were starting off so slow the way we did, those seniors knew it was their responsibility to bring this team back to the championship and win and they did that. As coaches, those are the moments you really enjoy and love watching them happen and they bought us back to that championship. And when we came out here, Penn State is a great side and they just wanted to play and I'm proud of their efforts out there.
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