Coach Mike Friesen News Conference Quotes
Oct. 16, 2012
SAN DIEGO --
Mike Friesen: Yeah, we're really excited about being back at home. We've been on the road for a long time. We've had nine of our last 11 games on the road and have done quite well. So we're excited to be back at home with an opportunity to win the Mountain West Conference regular season this weekend.
Q. Road games tend to be the toughest. What does that say about your team going on the road and coming out on top?
Mike Friesen: Honestly, we have a group of warriors. We've had some really tough travel. We've been not just going to one place for the weekend but traveling to multiple cities. We have a group that has won games from ahead, behind, close games, games where we're better, every which way. So we have a team that is very mentally tough.
Q. Talk about your national ranking.
Mike Friesen: It's exciting to be ranked as high as we are right now. The one that's probably the most exciting for us is the RPI at 6, which gives us a chance if we can continue with what we've been doing to host multiple rounds of the NCAA Tournament. It's an honor to kind of be recognized by the coaches, but at the same time we want to be focused on our process, which has been every day, win games, focus on the next one at hand, and through all that try and enjoy it, as well, which is tough sometimes.
Q. Have you thought about hosting NCAA Tournament games with the College Cup being in San Diego? Has that crossed your mind?
Mike Friesen: Yeah, absolutely. That's something our team has looked at when we set our goals at the beginning of the season. We wanted to reach at least the Elite 8 and to look and see the season we've put together to this point and the confidence and the belief in ourselves that we have, with the opportunity to host maybe not just one round but three, maybe four, who knows, leading into a College Cup that's for the first time ever in San Diego. Maybe that's a sign for us.
Q. It seems like a different player steps up for you every weekend. What does that say about your team?
Mike Friesen: It says a lot about the group we have. We definitely have some very good players. Megan Jurado had a fantastic weekend this weekend and Sarah Halverson the weekend before, but one of the things that we've tried to do in my time here as the head coach is to develop a culture that is team first. When you have that, and people understand that everybody needs to contribute, whether that's on the field or off the field or whatever that role is, to accept it and do it to the best of their ability, that creates an environment where people can succeed. We believe in each other and we have each other's back and that's really coming through in our performances on the field.
Q. With such a high ranking right now, what are you telling your players to keep them level headed and not thinking too much of it?
Mike Friesen: We refer back to our goal setting and the process of that. So instead of focusing on the end result, focus on the process of every day; we want to get better every single day. We want to perform on a consistent basis, we want to be warriors. So to focus on the process of what makes us good keeps them, every day, showing up and playing hard. That's still going to be the key for this weekend as a coach, and as you look at it in the media, we'll have a chance to win the Mountain West Conference (regular season championship) this weekend, and that's one of our goals. It's the beginning of our goals. In order to do that we have to play well on Friday night. We know we have a tough opponent coming in Wyoming that's looking to earn a place in the conference tournament, so we are going to have to be ready to go. But it's focusing every day on what makes us good and what's gotten us to this point.
Q. Did you expect to be this good in the offseason?
Mike Friesen: No, probably not this good. I definitely believe in my team, and there was a significant change that happened in the spring when they came back. There were some players that really committed to their fitness. Carli Johnson is probably the prime example of that where I really challenged her last fall at the end. She came back and she was the most fit she's ever been, and she's played every minute of every game this year and has been unbelievable. But that's just one of the stories that's kind of come out of this team is when we came back for the spring, there was just a different energy and a different focus for the group, and they were really looking at how good can we be. So to start there and look at what they did during the summer on their own started to give me these thoughts of, this is finally now the team that's kind of taken charge of themselves and all of the years of work to be put into this group and to see these seniors just take control, I knew something could be good. Then to start the season the way we did with an overtime win. That gave us some belief. But I don't think you ever look at a season and go, yeah, we should be 14 1 1, and with the schedule we play that seems normal. No, it's something that's been extremely fun for me to experience, but I don't think I expected us to be 14 1 1. I knew we were good, but this has been probably a little past my expectation, as well.
Q. You used the word belief. How much has that word been a contributor to your success this season?
Mike Friesen: It's huge. Any time a team believes in themselves and individuals believe in themselves and you believe in each other, you can achieve some things that are beyond what a lot of people can comprehend. If you look at our team, we don't have the talent to be No. 6 in the country. There are some extremely talented teams out there. We're very good, but what makes us the best is we're a team, and we fight for each other and that's really what's put us in this position.
Q. Can you talk about Megan Jurado's season? Is this one of the best seasons you've ever seen by a single player?
Mike Friesen: She has been phenomenal. As you look at Megan Jurado's career here, it hasn't been filled with a lot of goals, but if you've watched us over the past three and a half years with her, she's been the same player. She has loads of ability. Her first touch is one of the better first touches I've ever seen in a player. But this year her belief in herself and just her maturity has really kind of put her in a position to have the season she's having. She's at 12 goals, and to have seven of them be game-winners, that says a lot about her, her belief in herself and you can see it. As you watch her play, throughout the game she just gains confidence. Sunday was exactly what we've seen out of her all year. She got the first goal, and then it was like, watch out. She was turning kids inside out. She had chances to get a hat trick, and she wanted it. So I expect this weekend the same thing. If I'm the other team, I'd be a little nervous about her if she starts to play that way. It's scary.
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