Karissa Hampton College Cup Diary
Dec. 4, 2000
As many of you probably know, we did not bring home a national title but we did get second place. Although we may not have brought home a championship, I think we set the tone for UCLA women's soccer in years to come. I think now people nation wide will know what UCLA soccer is all about. Some people may of thought us being at the College Cup was a fluke, but us making it and performing well proved to the world that we had every right to be there and that we deserved it. I am so proud of this team. It hurts to lose, but at the same time I am very pleased with what we have accomplished this year. It's unfortunate that this was my last year because I will no longer to be able to be coached by Jillian Ellis, who I feel is an outstanding coach. I also feel unfortunate to be leaving because we have a great group of underclassmen that have the talent, the heart, and the opportunity to do this all over again.
Prior to the national championship game on Sunday, at first I thought that people might be a little intimidated by the fact that we were playing North Carolina for the national championship. But after our meeting with Jill and on game day, I realized that my team feared nothing. I believe that everyone was mentally prepared and physically ready for the task at hand. In our warm-up, everyone was on and focused. We were 'locked on!' I truly believed that this was our national championship. The first 45 minutes were intense, and as a matter of fact, I think we played defense the entire half. We were unable to get into the flow of the game, although we had brief periods of good soccer. After half time we came alive. We started to string together great passes and it was great soccer for a while. We eventually ended up scoring first and I think that confirmed our feeling that we can do this - that we can win this game! However, as the game went on the momentum began to shift and back to UNC. They scored and after that they became even more persistent and unluckily for us, they got another one. However, I still knew and felt that we were going to win that game because we were too proud a group of girls to give up and give them the title. We still worked really hard but we were just unable to get another one. I thought so much character was displayed in that game. People put so much heart into it and I am so proud of us. There is no room for disappointment.
Well, that was the very last game of my collegiate career and I truly believe that it was a great way to go out. As I sit here and think about how I do not have another game or how I do not have another practice with my girls anymore, it is heartbreaking. Yesterday it hadn't quite hit me and today I still don't think that it has totally sunk in yet. But as I sit here and think back to all the fun things that have happened this year and the bonding that has gone on, I know I am going to miss it terribly. This weekend was tremendous and I think that we did well and that we stayed focused. Katie Greenwood came up to me after our playoff game against USC and said, 'you're not about to let this season end yet, huh?' I said, 'no, we are going all the way!' I wanted to lead our team to a national title and although we fell short, we accomplished so much this season.
In the few years of playing college soccer I have learned so much and I want to learn more. Sometimes it's easy to think you have learned all you can about a sport, a subject, or anything, but then you realize there is so much more you don't know. The one thing I love about sports (soccer specifically) is that you can continue to grow as a player, and there is always room to become better and better.
If there is one word that I could use to sum up my senior year, I would use the word character. If you looked at our team this year, it still had a lot of the same girls as last season, but what made the difference this year was that people had a lot more heart and drive inside to become these better athletes and better soccer players. I think that takes and shows a lot of character. And oh yeah, we had a great freshman class!
To all those that supported us while we were on the road, I just want to say thank you and tell you that your support meant a great deal to us. We truly appreciated it. Looking back, there is nothing I would want to change about my last year at UCLA. This last year has been one of the best years of my life.