Q & A with UW Women's Soccer's Shaela Ward

Aug. 24, 2005

The Washington women's soccer team begins its 15th season of play this weekend, competing at the Penn State Soccer Classic. The Huskies meet sixth-ranked Penn State on Friday, Aug. 26 and Hofstra on Sunday, Aug. 28.

Junior defender Shaela Ward, a product of North Thurston High School in Lacy, Wash., spent a few minutes with GoHuskies.com talking about the start of a new season.

GoHuskies.com: What are your thoughts entering the 2005 season?

Shaela Ward: 'I am really excited to be working with Kelsey (Rasmussen) again and playing the center back role. Katie (Hall) and I played together a lot this summer and I feel like we have a really good connection, so I am excited.'

GoHuskies.com: How is the team dealing with so many new faces?

SW: 'All preseason we have just focused around doing everything as a team and working on our team chemistry. That way on the field we are one unit, as opposed to 11 different players.'

GoHuskies.com: 'How does it feel to be projected in the starting lineup?

SW: 'I didn't see much playing time during my freshman and sophomore years. This year I am going to come in and see a lot of playing time, so it should be interesting. I am really excited to get my chance on the field.'

GoHuskies.com: Have you had a chance to get a feel for the defense yet with four new players in the back?

SW: 'Individually I think everything is looking pretty good. Jenna (Kozakieciwz), on the left, is looking really good and she has great speed. Katie Hall is a solid player and very good at tackling, she is really like a wall to get by. Cathy Roe is a great back with a set of lungs; she can run all day. I think we are going to have a very strong defensive unit.'

GoHuskies.com: You played on a defensive flank your first two seasons. Was it a difficult adjustment to move into the middle?

SW: 'I'm definitely not making as many runs as I used to. Cathy Roe has definitely stepped up to the plate. It really means a lot more communication for me, playing in the center.'

GoHuskies.com: Have you sensed that junior goalkeeper Kelsey Rasmussen is a more vocal this year with an entire new group of defenders in front of her?

SW: 'Kelsey, for sure, is letting her back line know what is going on. You couldn't ask for a better `keeper back there.'

GoHuskies.com: The midfield has undergone some drastic changes as well. How are things working between the defense and the midfield?

SW: 'Dani Bridges is such a target out there. DJ (Dana Johnson) and Sarah (Dougherty) are doing really well. All good people hold the ball for us and look to make the switch.'

GoHuskies.com: Up front, Kim Taylor is back for her senior year. What are your thoughts on the forward corps?

SW: 'Kim is our leader up top and she is a great person to hold onto the ball. She is great about communicating to the team. Katy Dowling is also great up there and she is good about getting the shot off. Melissa Beal is coming in really strong, so I think we are going to be alright.'

GoHuskies.com: Would you comment on last year's phenomenal run to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA tournament?

SW: 'Hopefully we can repeat what we did last year and have another strong run at the tournament. The Elite Eight would be great, but you can only hope to get better. It is such a tough goal.'

GoHuskies.com: What are the goals for this year's team?

SW: 'I think we are going to start off going game by game and trying to figure out what adjustments need to be made. I am definitely looking forward to a winning season.'

GoHuskies.com: The coaching staff put together another difficult schedule this year. What are your thoughts on this year's opponents?

SW: 'I think that it is important to have a tough schedule. It doesn't do you any good to play an easier schedule, because it really doesn't allow you to get better. It is such a growing process.'

GoHuskies.com: Last year you had a long stretch of games where you were away from home, gut this year you have a more balanced schedule where you are able to play at home more often. How does it feel to play at home more consistently?

SW: 'I am really excited because my family can't really travel that much because of my younger brother. Just being with our crowd and our fans...you can't beat that anywhere.'

GoHuskies.com: Have you decided on a college major yet?

SW: 'I just declared and I decided that I am going to be a political science major. I hope school keeps going well, and I hope soccer continues to go well too.'

GoHuskies.com: What are your plans after you are finished with school?

SW: 'My aunt, Evan Ward, is an attorney and she has run for office a couple of times. Hopefully I could help her with her campaign around her law firm and we will see how that goes.'

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