Q & A With Kari Davidson

Nov. 11, 2008

Freshman Kari Davidson has been holding down the Husky net over the latter part of the season, filling in for injured junior Alex Phillips. Davidson, a Portland, Ore., product, has made huge strides in her rookie season, collecting two shutouts and posting a 6-2-1 record. After being thrown into the fire against UCLA and Stanford - two of the top teams in the country - Davidson has been a quick study, lowering her goals against average to 1.58 and leading the Huskies to their first postseason appearance since 2004. As the team prepares for its trip to College Station, Texas, Davidson sat down with GoHuskies.com

How was your first NCAA Selection Show experience? Were you nervous watching the show?

'My stomach was... I thought I was going to throw up! Especially because we were one of the last teams to show up. Then we saw (Washington State) come up so I was like, `if they take Wazzu and not us...' I was ready to die! But then I was so excited when our name popped up finally.'

Talk about the upcoming NCAA Tournament and how you feel being a starter your freshman year.

'It's really exciting. I've been very fortunate. Alex Phillips has been a huge support system when there were hard times and going through the middle of the season when I jumped in. She has truly been so amazing with the whole thing. She comes up and gives me hugs after every game and says, `great job,' even after I know I haven't played a great game. She's been so supportive and so have the rest of the team and the coaches. I was unsure coming into this season about how much I was going to play. It's exciting now going into the tournament because our team has been working together so well. It's been a really, really fun season. Probably the most fun I've ever had playing soccer in my life.'

You're had a pretty interesting freshman season. You played a little early on in the season, then watched and learned from Alex Phillips until she was injured. What was it like being forced into action against No. 2 UCLA and then playing No. 5 Stanford in your second game? What did you learn from that experience?

'Jumping into the UCLA game, I think I just blocked it all from my memory. It's like a big cloud of fuzz. I was so nervous. Watching on film, now I kind of remember what happened but it was just a blur.

The Stanford game, I made some really silly mistakes. After that game I was like, `ok I need to get it together.' I kind of focused more on how I could help the defense so the ball wouldn't get to me. Not that I don't want the ball, but I think it's funny sometimes how people say goalkeepers should want the ball but why would you want the ball? It's a chance for them to score! I'm just trying to keep it out of the net. But I tried to focus more on working with the defense instead of just trying to figure out myself and where I was supposed to be. They did a great job of helping me out. It sort of built from there to where I was feeling more comfortable working with them and then I got a little more comfortable just knowing what to expect from the college game. The learning curve was steep. You have to have a short memory.'

Since then, you've come up with some big saves against some tough Pac-10 opponents to give the team some key wins, including two late saves against then-No. 13 Cal which preserved a win. Did that give you a big boost of confidence?

'Yeah, definitely. The Cal game was big. To know we can fall behind and come back and work together and pull out a close game like that was a huge step in the right direction. We got in a little bit of a lull there against the California teams and to pull out that win against Cal, we kind of all knew we were going to do well this season.'

Did you feel any pressure over that final stretch of games knowing a postseason spot was in the balance?

'I always get nervous before games, ever since I was little, so I guess it wasn't that much different. My mom says you have to get your butterflies to fly in formation. I always try to calm myself down and use that nervous energy and turn it into positive energy.'

Talk about your first collegiate start against Kennesaw State where you shutout the Owls for your first win.

'It's just exciting to see your name up on the starting board. I didn't have to do a whole bunch that game but it was exciting to be out there and have the feeling of being at home and having that home crowd. Playing in college is something I've dreamed about since I was little. My dad played football here so I would always come up to the games and for a long time I planned on playing soccer at UW and then that changed when I grew up a little bit but I ended up coming back here.'

What has goalkeeper coach Amy Griffin meant to you so far and how has it been not having her the last couple weeks while she's been with the Under 17 National Team?

'Having her around is crazy amazing. I have never had a coach like her ever. She is positive and warm and an amazing coach, obviously. I have learned more the past couple months than I have in my whole life combined. Even just her little pointers, she is so knowledgeable. She does a great job of teaching it. She's never negative and she's just amazing. It's hard having her gone but she's great. Even just before she left she was crying, wishing us luck. She posts little blogs online for us to read.'

In general, how are you adjusting to college life?

'It's good. I could not be happier with UW. Although I have two midterms and a paper due this week but my professors are being great and letting me reschedule.'

Which of your teammates were the most helpful in getting you adjusted to the college life?

'I would have to say Alex Phillips. She has handled the situation with so much grace. She didn't even for a second when she went down in the UCLA game think, `oh my gosh, this horrible situation happened.' I mean, that's a sucky situation, but the first thing she said was, `Kari, you can do this.' She's so amazingly positive. I was just freaking out and she was very calming. At halftime she was like, `you're doing great,' even though I was like, `No, I'm not.'!'

Well, Kari, good luck at NCAAs and thanks for talking to GoHUskies.com.


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