bleedCrimson.net: In each of the two halves it looked like Hawai'i came out a little faster than you did but your girls settled in and especially in the second half you really dominated play.
Blair Quinn: That's pretty accurate, I definitely think we got outplayed the first 20 or 25 minutes, they played better soccer than we did. It wasn't lack of effort, we weren't playing our style. We were playing very one dimensional, very direct and it was causing us problems because were weren't getting out of our end fast enough and closing space and it was because we didn't have the ball. I think it's something that we were very fortunate that Jennae scored right before halftime and that's what we call a dirty work goal. She was just doing hard work as a forward, crossing their back and was able to block a clearance. It fell for her nicely and she actually finished it really nice. She caught the keeper about halfway out and just drilled one right underneath the bar.
We were a little bit fortunate to be 1-1 at halftime. We came out much better in the second half playing wise, again though, we were under pressure first though for about the first five or ten minutes until we finally settled and started playing our rhythm. Our midfield was much better in the second half.
bc.net: Bree Luhrsen scored the eventual game winning goal, her second against Hawai'i in less than a week.
BQ: That was actually some of our best play of the day in terms of team soccer. There were several passes involved in it. The ball bounced left side, came into the central area of the midfield, got played back out to the left, played a great diagonal ball. We had kind of drawn them in with the two or three short passes and then a great diagonal ball over the top to the back side where Yolie was. She took a nice first touch and really she took a great shot. She hammered it but it just hit the post. But we had been so much more compact and in shape in our team shape because of the way we were attacking with possession through the midfield that when that ball came off the post, our attacking mids were pressing, Mary Kate followed up with a well struck rebound shot that the goal keeper was able to get in front of an knock down, she was diving, but Breesy was also crashing the goal, maybe a few yards away out there, she turned real quick in a 180 and hammered it in. That was a great team goal because it came from several good passes and good team pressure instead of one player doing all the work.
bc.net: The second half it really looked like you were getting lot of those type of plays where you were really starting to build a run and maybe just a little unfortunate not to get a couple of other goals out of it.
BQ: Yeah, that's how we play. When we play well, when we play our style. Give Hawai'i credit, that's a very good team. They're in their first year in terms of a new head coach for them but they caused some of the problems for us that we were having with our rhythm and our style. Once we got settled in in the second half then they had some problems trying to hold us playing through the midfield. The way we were shaped up we actually outnumbered them in the midfield and that's what I was trying to get the girls to understand at halftime is that's where we needed to win the game was in the midfield first. I think that's finally what happened. We created a lot more chances. I still think we ended up getting outshot for the game which hadn't happened to us very often and isn't something we want but in the second half we were taking much better opportunities.
bc.net: Defensively Courtney Irwin was outstanding in the game and was seemingly making plays everywhere on the field.
BQ: Yeah she was. To be honest she played better in the second half because of her organization. We were a little bit off in the first half. We were a little loose in the back and it wasn't any one player. Their one-v-one defending was actually pretty good but it was our back four shape defending, our pressure as a whole back line, it wasn't where it needed to be. It was a little bit of a lack of organization and that's what we talked to them about at halftime, to the back specifically, "You've got to be more organized." I even pulled Courtney aside before we took the field in the second half and said, "We need you to lead us. Don't just defend, we need you to lead us back there." And she did. She did a great job in the second half, we were way more organized.
Mickey Giles came in and played the last 10 minutes or so of the first half and she played so well, which she actually did for us in the first game against Hawai'i, played the last 10 minutes of the first half really well. We decided to keep her on this time and she played great. Mickey did a great job in the back as well for last 50 or 55 minutes of the game.
bc.net: Jess Schutter got her second victory over Hawai'i and she had a couple of really nice saves in the first half that kept the game at 1-0.
BQ: Yeah she did. Goal keeping is tough, it's a tough spot. I played there so I get it. I've been the guy that played all year and I've been the guy that sat all year too. It was kind of back and forth with her and Erin going into conference play. I think Jess is a very good goal keeper, I just thought that Erin was playing probably more consistently day by day at the time but I have all the confidence in the world in Jess too and I knew that if something happened that we weren't going to have any kind of a drop off in goal and we haven't. She's been very good. She's done everything we've asked her to do in practice, she's done everything I've asked her to do in both games. That goal was certainly wasn't her fault. She made a valiant effort to get there. She laid out, she was long, I thought she might get a piece of it but the girl hit it really well. It certainly wasn't on Jess. But then she made a couple big-time saves in the first half to keep it at 1-0 with a chance to tie it up and come out in the second half with a chance to take over the game.
She had one really good punch clearance. You don't get saves for those because they're crosses and not counted as shots. But they played a very dangerous ball into the box on a free kick and she came through the crowd and punched the thing straight out of bounds on the sideline, 30 or 40 yards.
bc.net: We talked earlier in the week about the team's composure. You fell behind again 1-0 but there was not a sense of panic and maybe it's because you've been able to rally so many times this season from deficits.
BQ: Yeah. It's a good thing and a bad thing I guess. It's good that we are that composed, I'd prefer that we didn't continue to go down a goal but when we gave up the goal there was so much time left in the game. We had more than half of the first half left and the whole second half. I think part of it is that we try to do as a coaching staff, we give up a goal, we as a coaching staff are very calm. We try not to change anything. We try to get us to play better but I think the girls know, they've done it enough now. My guess it's somewhere around the fifth or sixth time this season that we've gone down and actually come back to tie or win. That's encouraging from a character standpoint. It says a lot about the kids and their character, their ability to handle the situation. But again, it's not something you want to continue to do. Eventually it catches up to you. If you keep going down and falling behind, you're going to run into somebody that's going to get a lead and is going to increase the lead and then you're in a lot of trouble. So it's definitely not something we want to do tomorrow against a rested Fresno team. We definitely don't want to go behind early.
bc.net: Obviously facing Hawai'i for the second time in less than a week, in any sport beating somebody in back to back meetings or twice in a season is very very difficult to do but you were able to overcome that challenge.
BQ: You know it's hard. It actually is hard because there aren't any surprises. They know you very well and you know them very well. Especially if you have the team that lost the first encounter, you tend to come out a little more fiery. I don't think our kids lacked effort or intensity, I just think Hawai'i had more. That's a very good team. Technically I'd say they are the most technically proficient team in the conference. I don't think there's any question about that. They're all scary good on the ball. When you've got that many kids that can dribble at you and dribble at you and dribble at you and shoot the ball, if you don't in any kind of rhythm that's a long day. It puts a lot of pressure on you. It's hard to play a team like that two times in a row where you've beaten them, you know you can beat them if you play well but you've got to continue to do the things you did in the first game and I don't think we did that in the first half and certainly not the first 30 minutes of the first half.
bc.net: You face Fresno State tomorrow in the semifinals and you talked about the unique shape that they play but you also just faced them a couple weeks ago so they're still fresh in your minds. Does that make it a little bit easier the second time around in having seen that system and knowing how to make adjustments to it?
BQ: Well I know how we'll start the game shape wise in terms of trying to handle that box midfield they play with, the 3-6-1. My guess is they'll start the game like that. I'd be surprised if they didn't, they were very good in that. We've got to handle their kid up top, Callie Hancock, the kid scored two goals on us. She's very good. We've got to do a better job of being organized enough to handle her among all four of our backs, specifically our two center backs. Again, this will be another one, we fought back from behind twice in that one. That's not something we want to try to have to do tomorrow because quite frankly we won't have the legs to do it at that point. They're going to be a lot fresher in terms of not having to play today and this is not a neutral site game for them, this is a home game, they're the hosts. We've got our work cut out for us. They're a very good team but we know that if we play well and handle the things we're supposed to handle in terms of system match ups, we know its a game we can win as well.
bc.net: Do you think there may be a little more pressure on Fresno State tomorrow with the Bulldogs being the higher seed plus the home team and your team going in as the lower team, a lot of people expected you to be one and done.
BQ: That's probably accurate. You'd have to ask Brian really if he feels like there's more pressure on them. I think the perception now is that it's the host team, they're at home, they're a top two seed, they got a bye, yeah they're supposed to win. They might feel like that a little bit. I don't know. Brian does a good job of preparing his team to play as well. They've won 10 or 11 games already this year and had some very good results against some of the top teams in the country. I certainly feel like there's not pressure on us to win. Having said that, I'd be disappointed if we went into that game for anything other than a win. I'm sure as heck not going to go in there and try to get a tie out of it and go to PKs. I want a win and so do our kids. They understand that that's the way that we approach every game. We don't approach somebody that's "better than us" or "better than us on paper" or higher seed and say, "Let's just see if we can get a point out of this." If that's what happens then that's what happens but we're going in to this to win the game and I think the best thing we can do is get an early lead. That seems to be cliche and common sense but in tomorrow's game with it being an away game, it would be huge for us so that we're not chasing the game.