bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the 1-0 loss against Louisiana Tech this past Sunday?
Blair Quinn: It was a difficult game, obviously the travel is a little more challenging to LA Tech and it's a long travel day but no excuses there, you've got to travel everywhere you go at some point. We came out a little bit slow. We weren't pressing to their goal so we were content with getting the ball and keeping it and just playing in the midfield. For some reason we weren't really trying to press to their goal. They got a goal right around the 30 minute mark into the game. Unfortunately they got it exactly how we knew or thought they would. It was exactly like we'd had on the scouting report. They played the system we thought they'd play and exactly and what we'd been training that week to stop from happening happened. It was unfortunate to give up a goal like that. Then they made it hard to play after that. To their credit they had a game plan and they did what they wanted to do which was score a goal and then defend. That's really all they did after they scored the goal. I think they had two shots total the rest of the game after they scored which was their intent. They played with five in the back, four in the midfield and one up top which made it hard to break them down. We were much better in the second half. We outshot them 7-1 in the second half. Yolie hit the post with about 15 minutes to go but we just could never get that goal to break them down that we needed to try to get out of there with a point.
bc.net: Obviously you had Jessica Schutter in goal in this game. How was her play in the first half, obviously they didn't take many shots in the second half.
BQ: She did a good job, she wasn't really tested though. The goal wasn't her fault. It was a defensive breakdown. She made a nice effort for it, the girl placed it well, side netting on the far post. She handled a couple of the crosses that they put in well but to be honest they weren't a very dangerous team. We gave them a handful of opportunities that were half chances at best and they took one of them on us. Jess played well. She didn't really do anything wrong in that game and to be honest you just want your goal keeper to make saves and keep you in it. I think she did everything she could in that game. She really wasn't tested in terms of a barrage of shots.
bc.net: You had a Monday practice session which you normally don't have, what will you be working on with your team this week?
BQ: Creating scoring chances. Right now that's probably our most glaring issue. We've been in a little bit of a funk. I think that tends to happen to just about any team in any sport, your offense just kind of hits a rut and you've got to keep grinding at it and find a way to break out of it. Trying different approaches and even different player combinations. You just keep going at it every day and just trying to find new ways. How can we get goals, who's going to be willing to take the shots, find dangerous gaps and thinks like that? That's really been the focus as much as us playing possession and keeping the ball, which we're doing a much better job of, at the end of that there's got to be a purpose to it, there's got to be something dangerous to that possession and keeping the ball. That's really what we've been working on the past two days and what we'll work on today. We'll spend the first 45 minutes to an hour today strictly attacking.
bc.net: This weekend is a little unusual from a schedule perspective, you go out on the road on Friday for the first game and then come back to Las Cruces and play a home game on Sunday. Do you approach this weekend as a pure road weekend that you just happen to be playing one of the games at home?
BQ: Yeah, in a sense. Like we've talked about before but it's really just one game. It's great that we get to play at home in conference finally on Sunday but we haven't even talked about it. We can't. Right now we've got to find a way to get a point in league. Oh-and-1 isn't the end of the world. We can still win the conference which is our goal, it's absolutely our goal. I think the two teams that tied for first last year were 5-3 so winning the conference is not out of the question but at this point right now it's about winning one game and getting points so then we can focus on the next game without being in a bigger hole than we're in right now.
bc.net: How familiar are you with Utah State and their style of play?
BQ: This is a very good team. I was looking at the new RPI that came out today and they're still in the Top 80 which is kind of the benchmark, you want to be a Top 80 program. I think they're number 79 or 76. They've played a very good schedule and they've done very well. They started off the season with eight straight wins. They're kind of in a little bit of a similar funk that we're in now. They're going to be back at home for the first time in about a month. I think it's rained every day this week there and it's supposed to rain on Friday and be about 50 degrees. There's some things that are going to play into their favor. They're a very good team, they're athletic and they're very very quick. They have a lot of team speed in every position. I think we have a couple of players that are faster than anybody they have but their overall team speed is very good. They play a unique system. If you simplified it, it breaks down as a 4-5-1 but it's really not that easy, it's a 4-2-3-1 with four very distinct lines of players and doing that it gives them a lot of players behind the ball but when they counter they move forward very quickly with their team speed and they have at least five players running at you forward because of the way they set up in their system. We're going to do a couple things to counter that but we will adjust our style a little bit to kind of close up spaces. They're looking for counter-attack spaces and so we're looking to close those spaces. I wouldn't say we're going to change our shape as much as just adjust our starting points and change our style a little bit to counter them.
bc.net: Shantel Flanery is their best player and obviously one of the better players in the WAC.
BQ: Yeah, that kid just flat out scores goals. Everybody should be so lucky to have a kid like that. There aren't a lot of programs that do. She's just lethal. She's a goal scorer, she's a pure goal scorer, she's a finisher. You put her in front of goal, it's going in. She will find a way. I think everybody's aspiring to have one or more of those kind of players. I think they're probably the only team in the conference that has that kid, Chelsea Small at Idaho might be a similar kind of makeup, she's a goal scorer, but there aren't that many around. She's a goal scorer and we will definitely be game planning to stop her and make them beat us with somebody else. They've got a couple of other very good players too, Kendra Pemberton, a left-footed kid playing out on the left wing for them is very dangerous as well.
bc.net: You mentioned the weather. Obviously both teams have to play in the same conditions but what adjustments do you have to make if the field is a wet or slick field. What are some things that you have to adjust and be more careful of when you've got conditions that aren't quite ideal?
BQ: Specifically when it's wet like that it becomes very much about body shape. Each individual as they're approaching the ball, whether they're going to strike it or receive it, especially receiving it, instead of just kind of putting a foot out and knocking it down, you've got to have your whole body behind the ball because it'll take all kinds of funny skips and dips when the ball is wet. It's a matter of making sure our backs are following every shot that goes to our goalkeeper, following it back. When it's wet the goalkeeper's gloves are wet, ball's wet, grass is wet and it's harder to hang on to the ball. So you make sure your backs are following your opponent's shots back to your own goal keeper in case there's a drop you can clear the ball out.
Then the same goes the other way, making sure we follow up on every ball we hit because if their keeper can't hang on, we'd be more than happy to have a little freebie, tap-in goal. That's would be fine with me.
It's each individual focusing more on their shape and being aware of how they're playing the ball with their body.