College Cup Gets Underway With Thursday Press Conferences

Dec. 12, 2002

The 2002 NCAA Men's Soccer College Cup kicked off Thursday as teams UCLA, Maryland, Creighton, and Stanford each held its news conference in the Paul B. Loyd Jr. All Sports Center on the campus of SMU in Dallas, Texas.

Pictures from Thursday's news conferences are available online at http://www.smumustangs.com/soccerm/collegecup/photos_thursday.asp.

Friday's semifinals begin at 4:00 p.m. central time when Maryland takes on UCLA. Following at 7:00 p.m. central time will be the Creighton and Stanford game. Winners will advance to Sunday's championship game at 3:00 p.m. central time.

STANFORD

Head Coach Bret Simon:
'We had high expectations at the beginning of the year. When we had some setbacks in the middle of the year, they only got better. We have made great strides and improvements from the middle of the season on. We are on top of our game now and are very excited to be here.

'We allow all our players to attack. We expect everybody to attack and to score goals. The key for us is that all of our players are attackers and all of them are defenders. You will see our defenders com forward and our forwards retreat to the midfield and come back and defend.'

(On the difference between last year's team and this year's):
'Last year we had a tremendous season and we didn't have many bumps in the road. We didn't have the adversity that this team has had. This year we have had some rough spots but that has made us tougher. We realize how fragile this game can be.'

(On the team's mid-year struggle):
'We went through a tough stretch where we couldn't score. Part of it was injuries and part of it was our inability.'

(On Creighton):
'It should be a good match-up, a very interesting game. Both teams like to attack. It should be an attacking, open, optimistic game. Not one where either side is playing for just one goal.'

(On going against his former school Creighton):
'I am really happy for their program. If we were playing here, I'd be here cheering them on. I am still close with many people at Creighton. There are some great kids on there team.'

#22 Aaron Maines
(On the Stanford offense)
'Entering the season, I think Roger (Levesque) was a marked man, but while he hasn't been able to score as much this season, the 13 assists shows his ability to distribute the ball. Johanes (Maliza) has found himself at the right place at the right time a lot this season.'

(On the two teams from the Pac-10)
'It's good to see another Pac-10 team here. While they're supposed to be our natural enemy, it's a proud moment for the conference. The conference has gotten stronger every year. We're excited to be so well represented.'

#19 Johanes Maliza
(On Stanford's midseason scoring draught)
'It bothered me not scoring. It's our job as midfielders to distribute the ball and provide goals. Thankfully, we were able to fight through it and start scoring again.'

CREIGHTON

Head Coach Bob Warming:
'We will have a difficult task on Friday. I think are guys are up to it though. We are very excited to be here and are looking forward to competing.

'In terms of name recognition, people outside the soccer community might not think we matchup. Since the conference playoffs though, we have been one of the hottest teams in the country. We may not be the fastest or most skilled, but we have a great work ethic and are very tough.

'We have really improved since the beginning of the season. We have just continued to get better and better and better.

(On Stanford):
'They are probably a little more conservative than we are. We are a little more open. Stanford is very athletic, well organized and tough to get behind.

#1 Mike Gabb
(On their return to the College Cup)
'The experience of having gone through all the hoopla surrounding the event before helps. It calms your nerves.'

(On facing former coach Bret Simon)
'It was nice to see him, but now business is business.'

#16 Joe Wieland
(On their return to the College Cup)
'The experience has helped us throughout the entire tournament. Having been here before, we knew what it would take to get back here.'

(On facing former coach Bret Simon)
'It would be nice to go out and beat them. Not just because he's a former coach, but because Stanford is a very good team and it would be a good win for us.'

UCLA

Head Coach Tom Fitzgerald:
'We are excited to be here. We have had a tremendous season to this point. We have been very consitent and are peaking at the right time and that is all a coach can ask for.'

(On going from MLS to coaching in college):
'It was a great decision to come to UCLA and I am very thankful for the opportunity. There is a small difference in the players. At the MLS level, it is a lot of man managing. In the university setting, you try to impact decision making of the kids and help them with problem solving. They are in school to get an education. I like college coaching because you can make an impact in their lives.

(On Maryland and the match up):
'I know Sasho (Cirovski, Maryland's head coach) very well and I know he will have them very well prepared. They are aggressive like we are. It should be an interesting match up because we won't be conservative. We will try to play our style.

'They play primarily a 4-3-3. They have very good speed and technically, are very gifted. They will provide a lot of challenges for our back three.

(On his team):
'We like to attack from the outside but we are very solid in the middle of the field. We have been playing very well right now.

'Dynamics of teams change from year-to-year. You have difference personalities come to the forefront each year. We don't have any superstarts but the players that we have are very competitive and very good players. We don't rely on just one or two guys for scoring or leadership. We have good chemistry and a lot of guys providing different elements.

'We are certainly a better team than we were in the beginning of the year. We've had a chance to avenge a couple of losses from earlier in the season in the playoffs (Loyola-Marymount and Cal). I've seen a lot of growth and maturity over the last six weeks.'

#17 Scot Thompson
(Comparing Maryland to anyone else they have played this season)
'Of the teams we've played most recently, I'd say Fresno State, because they both play a 4-3-3. We really have to look out for their three forwards, play fast in the back and get the ball out to the flank.'

(On the emotions of coming back to the College Cup after reaching the Final Four in 1999)
'We're more calm this time around and are just taking it all in. We're nervous and excited. Now I know just how big this is.'

#3 Ryan Futagaki
(On season expectations)
'Our expectations before the season were very high. We set team and individual goals and, having reached the College Cup, we've reached many of those goals, but our expectations are still high as we play in the Final Four.'

(On the emotions of coming back to the College Cup after reaching the Final Four in 1999)
'When we came back in 1999, we didn't know what to expect, but now we know what this is like. I'd say we're more excited than nervous.'

#2 Tim Pierce
(On their recent offensive explosion)
'It will be difficult to keep scoring the way we have been against a tough team like Maryland. We'll just have to use our outside players to get the ball wide and hook up with our forwards.'

(On the emotions of coming back to the College Cup after reaching the Final Four in 1999)
'When we reached the College Cup as freshmen, I think we started to expect this level of success and it became an expectation for every season. Now we realize how difficult it is to get here and how important these next two matches are.'

MARYLAND

Head Coach Sasho Cirovski:
'Before the season started, I thought if we stayed healthy, we could have a special year. We have had a lot of injuries the last two seasons. We have been healthy this year and as a result, we have had a great year and have put ourselves in position to play for the national title.

'We like to attack and put pressure on our opponents. We feed off of that pressure. We are very disciplined. We've got 12 yellow cards this year. That has to be the lowest in the country. We like to play soccer the way it should be played.

'We have gotten some great goal keeping and we will need that this weekend to be successful. My suspicion is that the game (vs. UCLA) will be a one-goal game.'

(On UCLA):
'They have very good attackers and can beat you in a variety of ways, off the dribble or the long shot. They are very athletic on the backline, probably as athletic as we have faced this season. Both teams will win their share of small battles during the match. It will be the team that is able to make the special play that will win the game. We are very evenly matched.'

(On the experience factor):
'We have played in a lot of big matches in front of big crowds. We don't have any seniors on the roster but we do have four redshirt juniors that have been around.'

#8 Abe Thompson
(On UCLA)
'We haven't really seen them. We don't watch a lot of tape on our opponents. Coach does that. We focus more on our preparation. But I know they're similar to us in that they like to rotate in attackers and any one of them can hurt us. We'll really have to play team defense.'

#20 Dominic Mediate
(On playing in his home state)
'I'm really excited to be back in Texas. I've been waiting a long time for this chance. I think I have 30 people on the guest list and a bunch more that are paying their own way. I will say there is a little pressure to step up and play well in front of my friends and family.'

#2 Seth Stammler
(On his development as a defender)
'At the beginning of last season, I was very inexperienced. I had grown up always playing forward, so being a defender was something new, but by the end of the year, I thought I had improved. In practice we didn't have anyone to play in the middle back, so I had to step in there. I thought I did pretty well back there and I guess coach did, too.'

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