Q & A With Kelli Smith
Sept. 6, 2004
The Washington women's soccer team has a 3-0 record and is ranked in the national polls after opening the season with home victories over three ranked opponents. The Huskies defeated No. 9 Penn State, No. 18 Ohio State and No. 8 Tennesse by matching 2-1 scores. That marked the first time in school history that UW won three straight games against ranked teams.
The Huskies begin a 10-game road trip this weekend at the Portland Invitational in Oregon. UW plays UAB on Friday at 4:30 p.m. and Weber State on Sunday at noon.
Gohuskies.com: What are your thoughts about the fantastic results in the opening two weekends?
KS: 'We're really excited. We're getting good play from everyone. We had five or six different people score goals. Our freshmen are looking really good. We're just hoping to keep the momentum going.'
Gohuskies.com: You have been starting on defense alongside two freshmen. How has that been going?
KS: 'They totally rose to the occasion. Whitney Clark and Dana Stirn are just playing awesome for us. Whitney stepped in when Nicole (Martinez) got hurt. She just stepped right in and filled the role. We haven't had a problem.'
Gohuskies.com: How has Canadian National Team member Clare Rustad adjusted to the switch from midfield to defense?
KS: 'I'm really excited about having Clare in the back. She's a hard, physical defender who gets up for air balls. She really knows the game well from playing in the midfield. We were worried that she was going to go Canadian style on us, but of course she didn't. She fits right in so I'm happy to be there with her.'
Gohuskies.com: Could you have envisioned before the season being 3-0 after starting the season with three ranked opponents?
KS: 'Yeah, that was our goal. Nikki (Gamble) and I sat down with the coaches before the season started. We were just talking about where we wanted to be now, where we wanted to be in a couple weeks and where we want to be when we enter the Pac-10. We're right on pace. We're doing great.'
Gohuskies.com: Is there any concern about a letdown now that you are scheduled to play some team that aren't ranked?
KS: 'There is always worry that someone is going to tune out mentally. But, I think the way that we have been preparing will take care of those mental issues. Hopefully, if someone is having a bad day, we will be there to pick them up.'
Gohuskies.com: How difficult will it be to play 10 consecutive games on the road?
KS: It will be hard, especially for all of the new players we have, to travel and get used to what it's like on the road. It's a little bit easier to focus on just the game. You are there solely to play soccer and you don't have to worry about anything going on in town. There is good and bad to both I guess.
Gohuskies.com: Does it help to start the long road trip in Portland, a place where the returning athletes have played before?
KS: Yes, but traveling is traveling though. We have to stay in the hotel and take the time to get over there. I think Portland is a comfortable area for us and we've done pretty well there. We're excited to get out there and start.'
Gohuskies.com: What areas do you see that can be improved with this team?
KS: There is always room for improvement. We can play through our midfield more and get Dani Bridges, our freshman defensive midfielder, more comfortable with the role. Just figuring out what our roles are and getting comfortable with them is always something we can improve.'
Gohuskies.com: Would you comment on the play of Kelsey Rasmussen in goal?
KS: She's doing awesome, just really great. We're getting exactly what we wanted out of her. She is totally sharp in the game and has picked up her communication a lot. She's doing great and we're excited that she's having such a good year.'