Q & A With Melissa Beal
Sept. 25, 2008
Husky senior Melissa Beal has been through some tough times in her career at UW but her senior season is shaping up to be a memorable one. After three consecutive losing seasons, Beal and the Huskies are 7-1 this season, the second-best start in program history. Beal has had a resurgent season herself, bouncing back from an injury-plagued 2007 campaign to score four goals in the first eight games, including the game-winning goal in the 87th minute in UW's 1-0 win at Purdue. The Portland, Ore., native sat down with GoHuskies.com this week to talk about the season and her career in Seattle.
You've been through three difficult seasons with the Huskies, how has it felt to have your senior year get off to such a great start?
'It feels great. It's really positive to end my end my career here with how well we've been doing because the last three years we've lost a lot of 1-0 games and just had a lot of things not go our way. It's really nice to finally win games and put the ball in the back of the net.'
What has been the major difference between this year's team and the last couple seasons?
'I think just getting off to a good start and winning that first game is always nice. We had a really nice freshman class come in which has helped us a lot. It's quite a young team. We only have two players graduating so it's a young team out there.'
You led the team in goals your first two seasons but had just two goals last season. Now you're back to your high-scoring ways. What's been the difference?
'Being healthy. Last year, I had to get my tonsils out because I couldn't breathe, but other than that I finally got over the small little injuries that prevented me from being able to do what I can do. It's helped a lot having a great group around me. Playing up top with Veronica Perez and having freshman Kate Deines in the middle of the field and just having different people all around helping out has been great.'
Talk about your game-winning goal in the 87th minute against Purdue. What did it feel like to keep the undefeated season going, on the road, against a ranked team so late in the game?
'I was so happy. We talked about it afterward that you don't really realize how much time is left and after those three minutes it was a really great feeling. It was nice to beat a ranked them at their field and it gave our team a lot of confidence because our defense played really well in the midfield and we played really well throughout the whole game. To finally put it away was perfect.'
This weekend marks the second of five home weekends this season. Are you getting a little bit sentimental each time you play there?
'People always ask, `how many games do you have left' but I really don't think about it that way. Our coach tells us there's only one important game each day and that's Utah right now. We're coming off a loss to Illinois at their home field and we played a lot better in the second half, but when you lose you always have to come back the next game and just tell yourself it's not going to happen again, especially on our field here at Husky Soccer Field. It's kind of sad thinking I only have a few games left but it's great to have my last season going so well. We're 7-1 right now, it's awesome.'
Seeing how talented this team is, how do you season your senior season playing out and what do you think this team can accomplish?
'I've been saying we're going to make it to the tournament this year. With the depth we have, not only our starters but the people who come off the bench, we're just a really strong team. I feel like we have a chance to make it the tournament and we should. Coming off a 7-1 streak right now, I hope the best for the team. We have the potential to get there and we've showed it so far. Hopefully it just keeps getting better for us throughout Pac-10s.'
School-wise, how is your senior year shaping up? What are you majoring in and do you plan to graduate on time?
'I am on track. Right now I'm taking three sociology classes so after this quarter I just need one more sociology class to take in order to graduate so I am on track. UW has definitely helped me with that. Everyone in the crew house (Student-Athlete Academic Services) has been great.'
What lies in the future after Husky soccer for Melissa Beal?
'I really don't know yet. I probably will move back to Portland since it's my hometown and I love it there. It's pretty much the same as Seattle but it's my hometown. I don't know exactly what I'm going to do yet since I'm just so focused on this season - and obviously school - but this is my last year playing here and we're doing well so I want to keep it that way.'
Have you considered trying to play in the new Women's Pro Soccer league?
'I have thought about it and my family has talked to me about it. My dad will say stuff about it every once in a while, like, `you should play, you should play!' If it happens, it happens. I love to play soccer so we'll see what happens.'
What have been some of your best memories in your time as a Husky?
'There have definitely been a lot but I think last year in the spring when we played Oregon at the Stanford tournament. That definitely was a highlight. I don't know why but it seems Oregon is definitely more of a rival for UW than Washington State, so for us to just beat them so bad, it got us off on the right foot. There was definitely that turning point in spring when we got Jim (Thomas) as a new coach and we finally just clicked together and finally started playing as a team and putting balls in the back of the net. It's been pretty nice this year for that to all come together.'
What have Coach Gallimore and Coach Griffin meant to you over the last four years?
'They have done a lot not just as coaches but they have been there outside of soccer. They can read me really well so if I'm having a bad day on the field they'll pull me aside and talk to me. They understand that some days you just can't play to your potential. It's been really nice, not only are they there for you but they push you. They have taught me a lot of new stuff about the game. Coming in my freshman year, it's so different going from club soccer to college and I had to learn quite fast because there weren't too many forwards on the team but it's been a good four years. I'm happy I came to UW. It's been perfect for me and a lot of fun.'