Q & A with Shaela Ward

Sept. 6, 2005

The Washington women's soccer team has played four tight contests, all of them decided by one goal or less. They are still seeking their first victory after a pair of losses and two ties.

The Huskies are gaining experience with a roster that underwent a great deal of turnover between this season and last. Ten of the 18 athletes who have played in a game this season are in their first year in the UW program.

UW travels to Oregon this weekend to compete in the Portland Invitational. The Huskies meet 25th-ranked West Virginia on Friday and No. 21 Wisconsin on Sunday.

Sophomore midfielder Dana Johnson (San Jose, Calif.) spent a few minutes with GoHuskies.com talking about the season so far.

GoHuskies.com: What are your thoughts on the season so far?

Dana Johnson: 'It's been frustrating. We want to at least get a win four games into the season, but it is going okay.'

GoHuskies.com: Every game has been close. Does the defense get credit for that?

DJ: 'Our formation on defense changes all the time. With injuries and people getting sick, we haven't had the same lineup. We'll probably change like three times in a game. It is really a learning process right now, but we will get things sortedout.'

GoHuskies.com: Would you comment on the difficulty the team has had scoring goals?

DJ: 'It is the toughest part of the game. The amount of opportunities that you get in a game is very limited. You might get only four or five shots in a game, so you have to capitalize on those opportunities. Everything has to be on target, preferably a shot that scores. The more shots that you take, the more that will actually go in. We just need to work on getting our shots on frame.'

GoHuskies.com: What was it like in preseason camp with such a large group of new players?

DJ: 'It is always a tryout. You have to know everyone's names, but at the same time I am a returner. That doesn't mean that I have any kind of authority or that anything is set in stone. The whole thing is just a learning experience right from the start.'

GoHuskies.com: You are only a sophomore, but on a team this young you are considered a veteran. Do you find yourself having to take on the leadership role?

DJ: 'Yeah, but you are a forced to a little prematurely. Usually you don't really need to be a leader until you are a junior when you find yourself maturing a little bit. There are only around seven returners now, so that definitely forces you to step up, even as a sophomore.'

GoHuskies.com: Is offense the more difficult part of the game to get together when there is a personnel change?

DJ: 'I think it is difficult to deal with a personnel change on both sides of the ball. I think that it is just noticed more when you have trouble getting the ball in the back of the net versus getting a shutout. As an attacking player, I feel that a lot of people ask you why you can't score and why you can't put the ball in the back of the net, but it goes both ways. I just think that it is more recognized when an offense can't score.'

GoHuskies.com: What do you think the mentality of the team is right now?

DJ: 'There is definitely frustration, but we are also very hungry. We are going to Portland this weekend to play two teams that I know nothing about. We are hungry and we need that win.'

GoHuskies.com: What was last year's experience like with that run through the tournament to the Elite Eight?

DJ: 'It was amazing to be a part of and even watch it. I was injured, but we had an amazing group of girls. That senior class that graduated was just phenomenal. To be a part of that supporting the team was just indescribable. That was something that we definitely need to do again.'

GoHuskies.com: What do you think about the athletes on this year's team?

DJ: 'There is a lot of talent on this team. The team that we had last year had seven seniors that had played together since their freshman year. There was a good number of returners, but this year it is completely different. The number of newcomers outnumber the number of returners. We do have a lot of talent, but it is just a matter of learning each other's talents.'

GoHuskies.com: What did you learn from your freshman year at UW?

DJ: 'I learned to not put people on a pedestal. I am playing Division I soccer for a reason. I must be good enough to play at this level or else I wouldn't be here. But having fun is the most important thing. I am not getting so nervous anymore because I must be of the same caliber that they are. If you go out there and just have fun, the game will come along with it.'

GoHuskies.com: What part of your game did you physically work on during the off-season?

DJ: 'I had to get healthy coming back from surgery. I needed to take the time to nurture my injuries and make sure that I came back healthy and ready to play. The worst thing that I could have done is come back too early, so that was the most important thing to me. I just took my time and let everything come back to me, you don't forget how to play soccer.'

GoHuskies.com: Have you thought about a major yet?

DJ: 'Yes, I am going to be an English major because I want to teach. I might even want to write a book.'

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