Q & A with Kelsey Rasmussen

Sept. 16, 2004

The Washington women's soccer team is ranked No. 4 in the national polls after the second-best start to a season in school history. The Huskies won their first five games, including three victories over ranked opponents. The Huskies won their first six games in the 2000 season, the same year they won their only Pac-10 championship. UW's defense has surrendered only three goals.

The Huskies continue their stretch of 10 straight games away from home this weekend. They play at Maryland on Friday and against Loyola (Md.) College on Sunday.

Gohuskies.com: What are your thoughts on the team's great start to the 2004 season?

KR: 'I'm so excited. Everyone has worked so hard. The freshmen came in really fit, which helped us a lot. It's been a great effort by everyone, even the people who aren't seeing very many minutes. It's just a team effort the whole way.'

Gohuskies.com: To what do you attribute the undefeated start?

KR: 'Everyone's hard work. The players from last year, the returners, worked really hard in the off-season. We also do a lot of team stuff together and that's helped because we have really have just come together this season.'

Gohuskies.com: What has been the key to the defense that has only allowed three goals?

KR: 'I don't know. We're working together. We work on both offense and defense a lot in practice and that has helped us a lot.'

Gohuskies.com: Would you comment on how well freshmen Whitney Clark and Dana Stirn have done as defensive starters?

KR: 'Whitney and Dana Stirn both have done awesome coming right in. You couldn't really tell they were nervous at all. Whitney has done a good job in the center, winning the balls in the air and going in for tackles. Dana is extremely fast running up the side. She can run people down and run past people. They're both great.'

Gohuskies.com: How has senior Clare Rustad made the adjustment from midfield to defense?

KR: 'Clare is amazing. I'm so glad Clare is back there with me. She really holds everyone together. She wins every ball that is in the air or on the ground. She's just great. I'm glad she's back there.'

Gohuskies.com: What makes senior Kelli Smith so successful as a defender?

KR: 'Smitty is great because she is very loud on the field. She communicates to everyone. She helps out every single person even though she's back on defense. She helps out the defense, she helps me out and she helps out the forwards. She's just really great because she talks a lot and she's also a hard worker.'

Gohuskies.com: Do you have to be more vocal, or more instructivethan normal with two freshmen starting on defense?

KR: 'I don't think so. I'm working more on communicating in general myself. So, I'm just trying to help out everyone and we're just all trying to help out each other with communication, talking to each other and letting each other know what's going on in the game.'

Gohuskies.com: Are you glad that senior defender Nicole Martinez will return to action soon?

KR: 'I'm very excited for Nicole to get back in. I don't know what's going to happen because Whitney has been playing great too. I am excited to have Nicole come back in and see what she can do.'

Gohuskies.com: What has been the key to your success this year in goal?

KR: 'I don't know. I've been working hard in practice. Also, Amy (Griffin) is a great coach. She's helped me out a lot with my game this season and last season. Getting some experience last year helped. More experience will help me out to do better.'

Gohuskies.com: Last week you had a tense 1-0 game where you made four saves and a 2-0 game where you didn't have any saves. Which type of game do you prefer?

KR: 'I definitely prefer the harder games. It's so easy when you have a harder team you're playing against, you are automatically pumped up. But for the teams that maybe aren't as good or aren't expected to be that good, you kind of have to pump yourself up. Especially when we are away from home, you have to create your own atmosphere and that's definitely harder. It's also good to work on your mental game, so those other games are good too.'

Gohuskies.com: Do you pay any attention to the national rankings?

KR: 'It's great that we are No. 4, but also I'm looking forward to the Pac-10 when we start the league. We came in here not even ranked, so ranking don't really mean that much to me. We are already No. 4 and we were nothing. It just fluctuates so easily. I think it's great that we're doing so well.'

Gohuskies.com: Could you have projected before the season that UW would be 5-0 after five difficult games?

KR: 'I'm a little surprised. The 5-0 record is great.'

Gohuskies.com: Do you expect opponents to play differently now that you are ranked so high?

KR: 'They will be maybe more prepared. Whenever a team plays another team they take them seriously, so it will be the same whether we are ranked or not ranked.'

Gohuskies.com: How much do you prepare for individual opponents. Do you scout who is left-footed or right-footed?

KR: 'I don't go over who is left-footed and right-footed, but maybe that No. 18 in the back has a 60-yard long ball at times or No. 11 wins every air-ball, stuff like that. Also, things like this person is a hard worker the whole time. That's more what we watch out for.'

Gohuskies.com: What is the one area of your game that you are working to improve?

KR: 'Communication, definitely. That can always get better for me and can even get better for our whole team. The more communication that you have just helps all of us out.'

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