Q & A With Ty Harden
Oct. 15, 2004
In soccer you want a defense that is steady and reliable. Sophomore defender Ty Harden has epitomized that idea in his Husky career thus far. As a freshman, Harden started every game and earned second team All Pac-10 honors and has elevated his game even higher in his sophomore season, leading a defense that has allowed only nine goals in 14 total games. Harden sat down with GoHuskies.com reporter Mike Bruscas after practice on Friday to discuss the team's intensity, recent successes and playing his hometown Oregon State Beavers on Sunday.
GoHuskies.com: How has this week of practice gone for the team?
Ty Harden: 'This has been our best week of practice. It's been our longest since the preseason to have so many days to physically practice hard. Normally, Monday's a light day since we had a game on Sunday, then we have Tuesday as our day off. Wednesday's a tough day but then Thursday is light again because we have a game Friday. This week we have a few extra days to play a lot more. Actually we just had to talk about we were almost too intense at each other. There were a couple crazy tackles out there. So I think this has been one of our best weeks of practice.'
G.H.: Is that a good thing to be so intense with each other?
T.H.: 'It's a good thing as long as everyone can handle it okay. You need that to be at the top level, but also if you're yelling at someone or make a crazy tackle, afterwards make sure that stays on the field and once we walk off the field we're all friends again.'
G.H.: How is the confidence level of the team?
T.H.: 'I think it's very high right now. We get more confidence from the way we've been practicing than we get from playing games. It's almost like we play harder in practice than we have been in games. So I think it's been a huge confidence boost this whole week.'
G.H.: Is that a concern that you are more intense in practice than in games?
T.H.: 'That's been something we've talked about. I think last weekend was much better than previous games. On Sundays we've struggled a little bit. I don't know if it's Friday night lights that get us excited and the crowds. The crowds are a little weaker on Sundays. But I think we need to bring more of our practice intensity to the games.'
G.H.: The weather was wet and windy in the 3-0 win over Cal. Does the team enjoy playing in those conditions?
T.H.: 'We all love the rain. We all love being out in it. Almost all of us are from the northwest so we love to get those sunny California boys out playing in the rain and show them what we've grown up playing in. It's definitely our advantage.'
G.H.: How did it feel to score a goal against Cal given you don't get many opportunities?
T.H.: 'It was good. It's nice to score even if it's the third goal. It finished them off.'
G.H.: You're from Oregon. Do you know many guys on the Oregon State team?
T.H.: 'I know a few guys on the team. Oregon State is probably 15 minute from my house so it's a little bit of a special game for me to show everyone from home. I'll probably have more fans from home than usual. I think a bunch of people are going to try and come up.'
G.H.: What brought you to Washington instead of staying so close to home?
T.H.: 'Soccer here I think is a lot better. Dean (Wurzberger) and Seth (Spidahl) I liked a lot more than the Oregon State coaches and the academics here were probably a big factor also. It's just a much better school than OSU.'
G.H.: The defense has allowed only nine goals in 14 games. What has been the key?
T.H.: 'Well Chris Eylander has had a great year and made a couple key saves. It's team defending, not just the defenders. You start defending from the forwards so I think the whole team deserves some of the credit.'
G.H.: On Sunday, Stanford had a stretch where they scored two goals in a short span of time. What happened there?
T.H.: 'They probably were deserved goals honestly. They were attacking us for a 20 minute span where we just couldn't keep the ball offensively and they just kept wave after wave coming. Every team gets their moments when they have their run of play but it's tough defend. We were just trying to do the best we could to not let them score when they have it and take advantage when we have our own run of play.'
G.H.: How big was it for the team to come back and earn a tie in that game?
T.H.: 'Huge. I think it shows a lot about our team just to see that we can be playing the way we were when they scored the two goals and then change in the last 20 minutes the way we were playing. That might be a turning point. Our confidence rose so much after that. It was a big boost.'
G.H.: After starting every game as a freshman last year, what has been the biggest difference in your sophomore season?
T.H.: 'The biggest difference I'd say between this year and last year is now I'm expected to be a leader more. Last year coming in they didn't even know who I was they didn't know if I was going to start. They didn't really know anything. This year there's a lot more expectations. Dealing with that is a big difference and just being able to be a leader and stepping into that position.'
G.H.: Did you expect to start as a freshman last season?
T.H.: 'At the beginning of the year when you're first coming in it's so different. I didn't know anybody, being from Oregon. I kind of knew Will Flanagan who's from Vancouver. But I really didn't know what to expect. I wanted to start, of course. I believed in my abilities but I wasn't sure that I was going to play or start.'
G.H.: What is the biggest strength of your game?
T.H.: 'I'd say winning when an attacker is one-on-one with me. That's probably my strength in defending.'
G.H.: What does the team most need to improve to get where you ultimately want to be?
T.H.: 'We have to improve everywhere. But we still don't really have a sure goal scorer. Someone needs to step into that role and maybe it's a different person every game. But we don't have a lot of goals from any one person so I think that's our biggest weakness from a stats perspective at least.'
G.H.: You have two older sisters who played collegiate soccer. What was it like growing up as the youngest in a soccer family?
T.H.: 'Them and my parents are the reason I love soccer so much. They're 26 and 24 so when I was young I was always at the field with them, following them to their games wanting to play. I wanted to be like my big sisters, as corny as that sounds. I've just always been around soccer since I was little so that helped me get an advantage there.'
G.H.: How do you like to relax in your free time?
T.H.: 'I watch soccer a lot on TV which is probably the biggest thing besides homework.'
G.H.: You've played soccer overseas on several occasions. What countries have you played visited?
T.H.: 'I've been to England three times, Denmark twice, Holland I've been to once.'
G.H.: How old were you when you made those trips?
T.H.: 'The first time I went to England I was really young, like 14. I went again between my sophomore and junior years when I was 16, and then I went this last summer again. I love England just because it's the biggest soccer country of the places that I went. Even their little games there, like exhibition games, are just crazy. We got to go to a couple games there. It's just fun being around that atmosphere because we don't really have that in the states.'
G.H.: Do you have a favorite team that you follow?
T.H.: 'I think the English Premier League is the best league in the world. It's on TV the most so it's easy to follow here. I'm a pretty big Manchester United fan.'
G.H.: What was the last movie you saw?
T.H.: ''Achorman'. It's hilarious. I'm a comedy movie guy.'
G.H.: What are some of your favorite movies?
T.H.: 'I'd go with 'Zoolander', 'Dumb and Dumber', 'Old School' is up there too. Those are the favorites.'
G.H.: How are classes going so far?
T.H.: 'They're going alright. I think the first week I was trying to put off starting school as much as possible. I think a lot of people do that. But I've gotten into it and it's going well.'
G.H.: Some athletes say it's easier to get their work done when their sport is in season. Would you agree with that?
T.H.: 'I definitely think that's true. It's definitely a lot easier to focus in season. You would think that we're a lot busier but our schedule during the season is almost easier than the offseason. In winter we're up at 6 for weights and then we have practice at 2. It's more hectic and getting up at 6 you're tired and just want to sleep. Also during the fall you have a set schedule every day so you know what you have to do and when you have to get it done. You're just a lot more organized.'
G.H.: Good luck this weekend against Oregon State.