Mike Friesen Press Conference Quotes

Oct. 30, 2012

SAN DIEGO -

Head women's soccer coach Mike Friesen

Opening statement:

We're pretty excited about the finish to our regular season, going undefeated in the Mountain West. That was a goal of ours that we checked off this last weekend. We're really excited about the conference tournament this week at home, where we have the No. 1 seed and a first round bye. It's kind of fun to have some awards today, we got the Offensive Player of the Year in Megan Jurado, the Defensive Player of the Year in Haley Palmer five total first-team players. So just pretty excited about the year, but excited to start the next chapter of our season with the postseason conference tournament this weekend and then hopefully into the NCAA after that.

On the MW Tournament:

Soccer is a funny game. To go through the regular season undefeated was, I think, a feat in itself. You can dominate a game and still lose, and the interesting thing about a conference tournament is that everybody has new life now. So we anticipate that everybody coming here this week is going to bring their absolute best. We're going to have to be prepared for that and it's something we're looking at. Obviously checking off another box on our goals to win the Mountain West Tournament, but also as preparation for the NCAA Tournament when its you win or you go home. We're looking forward to kind of practicing that as well as looking to win the championship. We expect that it's going to be a battle.

On having both the MW Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year:

It makes me sleep a little bit better at night knowing that I have some players like that to help win games. The reality of these awards is without their teammates, they're not going to win those awards. They're certainly special players that have had great years. As I look down the list of all the all-conference stuff, I'm just excited to have the team I have. There are so many players on our roster that could really be in that same role, but it's pretty special that both those players were recognized. That says a lot about the work they put in and all these awards and even our season is not just about the last three months of the work that's been put in, but years and years of preparation for those players and the team and staff and all those things. It's pretty exciting to have both of those, but we also understand those awards are only possible because of our success on the field as a team.

On being MW Coach of the Year:

It's an honor and again, that's something that's not just me. It's my staff, I can't explain to you how grateful I am to have the staff I have this year. All of them have brought something different and unique. JuanPa (Juan Pablo Favero) brings an expertise in some of the sports physiology stuff and Chris Lemay is just so energetic and Tammy Lenham is willing to do anything we ask of her and really just fill in any of the gaps. From a staff perspective, it's exciting that we've had the success and on top of all that, as I talked about with them about this morning, it's been a great year, just a fun year. They're a great staff to be around, so it's exciting just that we're being recognized for that. But again, it's a team award. None of that is possible without the players and the work they put in and the results they've had on the field. That's the only way those awards come.

On having people come out to support the team during the MW Tournament:

We definitely would love to see as many people come out and support us as possible, make just a fun environment. It's fun to be at home and we've been dominant at home. That's been one of our goals as well, to be dominant here and we're 10-0 on our home field. That certainly sets us up to feel comfortable in the environment. One of the things that will help us this week is to have the experience of hosting two years ago. It was a change for us because normally you pack up and leave and go somewhere and you have that experience of just being isolated as a team. So we some distractions here in that they're all with their friends and family and all those things are happening right here and they're going to class. We really feel like this is our year and we're confident in our ability, especially here at home. It has some pitfalls for sure that can be there, but this team has done a really good job of focusing on the next thing, the process and those things that will really put us in a position to win games. Like I said, soccer is a funny game. You can dominate and lose, but we just had a really good season of being focused every game. They've brought their energy and their competitive nature in every game. I have not had to coach that, which makes it really enjoyable for me.

On what the team has set as the final box they want to accomplish this season:

The big goal we've had, which is about to be revisited, is to get to at least the Elite Eight. We'll revisit that next week after we finish this portion of our season and look really where we are. When we started the season, if you looked at our team that was a good goal for us. At this point, with the success we've had in the season, we've got to dream a little bit. There is a long way to go still and a lot of soccer to be played and a lot of things would still have to happen and we would have to play exceptionally well because we're going to see some fantastic teams in the NCAA Tournament, but we want to dream. We want to be in a position where we're not limiting ourselves or putting any glass ceilings on ourselves going into that next phase of our season.

On whether coaching this year's successful team can be used in future seasons:

That's a very good question, because I don't know if there's a great answer to it in that there's no real formula for success every time. We can do the same thing next year and not have quite the same success. So it's really about reading the group and the maturity of the group. That's the things I've learned as a head coach in my first six years is reading where to start with the team and what not to bypass. I think I've made mistakes in the past where I've started too far down the road with a group and they've been a little too immature for that. The big thing I'm taking away from this is to be patient and allow our team to play within themselves. This group has been really fun to coach as I said before. I haven't had to coach effort. When the group can do that, it makes my job a lot easier to just put them in good positions to win games and believe in them. That's the thing that's changing in our program is we've developed a culture here now that is expecting to go and do things much bigger than we have in the past 10 years. We're expecting to be a very good team day in and day out, whether those bring some disappointments along the way or not, but just to stay focused on the process. I think we have established that culture and it's going to be my job to help maintain that culture as well as the players that are in the program that are going to remain for the future, the next few years here.

On how the team created the boxes for the season:

It's all player-driven. One of the things that we've done with this team this year differently than the past is this is the first time since I've been the head coach I've felt the team is mature enough to really set their own course. When I came in, I felt like there were things that needed to be changed and it was really guided and directed by me. So from day one, we allowed them to take our mission statement, blow it up, completely change it, do whatever they wanted to do with it. They rewrote that and tweaked it and had it memorized the next day and that was the beginning of them taking ownership of this team. When we went through the goal setting process, we started with academics and then the social settings and then finally the athletic part to teach them a little bit about goal setting. But as we got to that, we wanted them to push themselves and get beyond things that they were comfortable in achieving. The reality of it is, it's very little about the end outcomes. It was more process driven and asking them what did they feel like put them in the best position to win games. It was about how we train, how we treat each other and all those things. So the goal setting really comes back to the process, which I've referred to week in and week out. It's really all player driven, it's what they wanted to do and what they wanted to accomplish. And of course, those are after years of me grinding on them a little bit about what we want to do. That's kind of instilled that culture.