bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on your weekend out in California, you pick up a tie against UC Riverside and a win against Southern Utah.
Blair Quinn: It was a good weekend overall in terms of going on the road and coming back without loss. It sounds kind of negative but to get a win and a tie on the road is a good thing. We played really well Friday night. I think we actually played better on Friday night when we tied than on Sunday night when we won.
bc.net: What were some things that you liked from your team on Friday?
BQ: On Friday our attacking pieces were coming together pretty well. The midfield and the forwards were connecting pretty well and we were creating a lot of dangerous chances. We actually probably four or five breakaways in that game that we were just unfortunate to score one of them. We actually scored two but they called one back for offside.
bc.net: In the Sunday game against Southern Utah you picked up your first win of the season.
BQ: Yeah, that game was more of a grind-it-out grit and determination game. We really didn't play that well on the attacking side of the ball. The rhythm and dangerous kind of attack that we had Friday we just didn't have on Sunday. Neither team really had it, it was just more of a grind-it-out kind of game. There weren't a lot of long possessions for either team it was just kind of back and forth. We actually got a goal against the run of play. We had been really out played for the ten minutes or so prior to us scoring but it was a nice goal.
bc.net: It was just your second weekend of play but what were some things that you were pleased with in the play after having that break in between?
BQ: I think going back to the Friday game, the attacking was just so much better than it had been. I think having that week off after we played the first weekend gave us a chance to extend the preseason a little bit or redo pieces of preseason and really spend a lot of time on us. The week leading up to the off weekend we didn't worry about the opponent, we just spent three days fixing some of our deficiencies, especially our attack. The week leading up to UC Riverside we focused on ourselves against them still focusing on us and the attacking side of the ball and I think it really showed on Friday night and even at times on Sunday so that was good to see.
bc.net: Both of your goal keepers got a chance to play this past weekend. Jess Schutter has been playing well and Mikaela Bitner was named the WAC Goal Keeper of the Week. What are some of the differences and similarities between the two?
BQ: They've both been playing well. Jess was unfortunate to not have won while we played because she had been playing well enough to win any of the three games she played in. Bitner, we thought it was a great opportunity to get her in a game right away early in the year. She hadn't played in over a year due to her ACL injury and we just wanted to try to get rid of the nerves and the jitters and she played well. She did everything she was called on to do and she got the shutout and we got a win in that game. We haven't decided who is going to be playing tomorrow [Friday] that'll come after practice today. They're both playing well, battling hard. Unless one of them really starts to dominate and take over here in the next couple of weeks I imagine we'll see them both playing at some point.
In terms of differences, Jess is longer than Bitner and can sometimes reach things just based on length that Bitner can't. Bitner is more explosive though so she kind of makes up for lack of length with explosion and some quickness. Those are probably the two main differences in how the two play. Bitner at least so far has tended to stay closer to her lines, tended to stay closer to the goal. Jess has been a little more willing to come get stuff, a little higher out. That's something that starts to become a factor for the defenders that are playing in front of them as well. Understanding what goal keeper they're playing with and what their tendencies are.
bc.net: You open up at home on Friday and christen the new stadium. How important is that for your team, the program and for you?
BQ: I think for the team it's a huge deal. For the team, the program and specifically the seniors, those kids who have been here literally since day one and have played all their games in Aggie Memorial. It's a huge stadium but it's a small soccer field. To be able to get onto a bigger field and have their own stadium atmosphere, where we practice in every day and they're comfortable with, you can only have a first time ever one time and tomorrow will be the first time we play a home game in the soccer facility and that's a big deal. I know they're all pretty excited.
bc.net: We talked a little bit last year about the different size fields that different teams have. Describe what your field is and what kind of advantage that it gives you?
BQ: When we were in Aggie Memorial it was only 110 yards long and 68 yards wide and in terms of soccer that's basically playing in an alleyway and it's just long and narrow and to be honest with you, not that long. Our field now is 116 yards long by 72 yards wide which just allows for a lot more movement and space to play in, especially through the midfield and getting the wide players involved in a little bit more free space. When you get on a field with a little bit more space you can punish teams that don't defend well. At times that may be your own team and you hope that's never the case and I don't think that'll be us. When you play a smaller surface like Aggie Memorial, teams that don't defend well can kind of stay tight and sit in and they don't get stretched out as much and so it's sometimes harder to break through. When we play on our field I think we'll be able to open teams up a little bit and make them actually have to be very good defenders to keep us from scoring.
bc.net: It sounds like field is really tailor-made to the style of play that you have.
BQ: Yeah I think it is. Oddly enough, we always walk out the dimensions of the field that we're on when we play away and I think the field at UC Riverside was pretty much within a yard of the size of the field we're going to play on and so that was encouraging because we played really well there and what we did well was open up the other team up and get out to the weak side. There's so much more space to do that on a bigger field and I definitely think it's a benefit to our style of play.
bc.net: What can you tell us about the two teams you'll be playing this weekend, Sam Houston State on Friday and Weber State on Sunday?
BQ: Sam Houston is going to be kind of a mirror system. From what we understand they play a 4-3-3 as well, maybe a little bit of a tweak, a little difference in their midfield but essentially it's a mirror system. Those are always interesting matchups because you're basically literally matched up against the person that's playing your position on the other team straight across from you when you're in the midfield. They'll want to use a lot of the same spaces that we want to use. It's going to be about which team takes control of the game more. With the styles being similar it's just going to be who's going to take control of the game by having the ball more. They've had a couple of hard luck results in their last couple of games but close games to some very good teams. I think they're going to be certainly better than what their record indicates.
Weber State presents a different kind of style matchup for us. Last year they played us in a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield so they basically surrounded our three mids with four mids so that was something we had to solve as the game went on. Assuming they go the same route this year we're a little more prepared for that but we've still got to solve it faster and be able to play. They just got a win last night to get their first win but they've also played some good teams. They played Oklahoma State who is No. 5 in the country, Tulsa and I think Utah as well and they're all 1-0 games and so they'll be a very god team as well.
bc.net: In terms of tomorrow being the first game in the new soccer stadium for the team, how much energy or added emotion is that going to be and how do you manage that?
BQ: I hope it's a ton of added energy to be honest. I'd like to see more of that. As far as managing that it's just making sure there's focus to that energy. Increased energy and excitement about playing at home in front of their friends from school, the community and I understand there's going to be an after school program coming so there could be several hundred kids here. It should be a pretty loud, pretty energetic atmosphere to begin with. When you get in those atmospheres I think it becomes easier to play. Just everything around you is buzzing and you just kind of join right in.