Q & A with Nicole Martinez

Oct. 21, 2004

The seventh-ranked Washington women's soccer team in on the road again this week, visiting the state of Oregon. The Huskies play Friday at Oregon State and Sunday at Oregon. Washington has a 10-3-1 overall record with a 1-2-1 mark in Pac-10 play.

Gohuskies.com: How does it feel to finally be back in the lineup after missing the early part of the season with an injury?

NM: 'It was kind of scary actually the first time I went in. It took me like five seconds before I realized what I had to do again, but then you get back into the flow. It's good. It's different with the new personnel that we have, to get used to the people around you. But, it's falling back into place. Hopefully we can recover after last weekend and get back to where we were at.'

Gohuskies.com: Was it difficult for you to have to watch from the sidelines for so long early in the season?

NM: 'It's hard. The team was doing so well and you know that you are a part of it, but you're not on the field. You're not contributing in that physical aspect. I just focused on mentally keeping everyone else in line and making sure that I stayed positive about the whole situation. I'd like to think that I gave them something.'

Gohuskies.com: What were some of the challenges for you coming in at mid season?

NM: 'Fitness was probably my most disappointing thing because I worked so hard all summer to get in shape and make sure I was ready for my last season. It was really hard just to get thrown into the game. My first game I went in with 35 minutes left and I told myself, '35 minutes left, I can do 35 minutes'. I try not to think about it now. Once I get tired I try to focus on other things and bring up other aspects of my game. Things like starting to talk more and organize everyone else so I'm not having to do so much running. I don't think it's that big of a deal and I don't want to come off the field. I just want to stay on as long as I can, so I'll give everything I have and then if they think that I'm not doing what I need to be doing then they'll pull me off. I'll leave that up to the coaches.'

Gohuskies.com: Kelli Smith is the only defender who has played back there with you before this year. How has it been playing with so many new defenders?

NM: 'It's not bad at all actually. Me and Clare played together in spring and we got pretty comfortable with each other. It was nice to have her back there. Since we're roommates we kind of have this bond going on. Smitty's always good to have in the back. Her voice and everything just seems to calm everybody down. The freshman have been playing awesome, Whitney (Clark) and Dana (Stirn) both have been holding up their own. We're impressed with what they have been doing.'

Gohuskies.com: Do the freshman defenders come to you for advice?

NM: 'I tried to give as much advice as I could. They didn't really need much. They got in there and got to it, so they did pretty well on their own. I definitely just tried to make sure they stayed calm and stayed positive about themselves.'

Gohuskies.com: Would you comment on how well Clare Rustad has made the switch from midfield to defender?

NM: 'We complement each other well. Clare is the destroyer and I just kind of clean up after her. It works out good. I love playing with her in the back.'

Gohuskies.com: What is the attitude of the team right now?

NM: 'Sunday's game was rough. We just got back to focusing on our personal roles and what that brings to the team. We're just focusing on having more fun. Everyone was kind of complaining and being tired and injured and all that kind of stuff. We just decided that we're not going to give ourselves excuses anymore. We're going to step it up. We're a good team and we know how we can play. We've seen how well we can play so we're going to get back to how we were in the beginning.'

Gohuskies.com: Is it any consolation that after a tough loss Sunday, you still have an excellent 10-3-1 record?

NM: 'Yeah. That's another thing that we have to look at. We know that we still have a good record and we're still in the top 10. We lost to UCLA, they're ranked No. 6 and they're a great team. We wish the result could have been a little bit better and not so harsh, but they are a great team and we just have to come back and do what we know we can do'

Gohuskies.com: Would you comment on Friday's 2-1 overtime win over USC?

NM: 'Friday was awesome. We definitely needed that. To be home again and have a sellout home crowd, it was just awesome. We've done it all season long, coming back from behind. It's tough to do that, but that's how strong of a team we are. We don't give up. We just need to keep on doing that, keep the positive mindset to know that we can come back. Hopefully, we will get to the point where we are not coming back anymore, but we just start off and maintain the whole time. Tina's breaking the record at the end is a good positive thing for our team that brings everybody up.'

Gohuskies.com: What emotions do you go through after a golden-goal victory like Friday?

NM: 'It's just pure joy. With 42 seconds left you are not thinking anything's going to happen and then all of a sudden your teammate is there to lift you up. I think that's what we need to do every game. One person can make a difference every time. We just need to start focusing on everyone doing that. Everyone can make a difference. It wasn't just Tina's goal in the last 42 seconds. We scored to tie it up earlier in the game with Nikki's (Gamble) goal and everyone worked hard on defense to shut them out the whole second half. Everyone just played really tough and got back into what we are used to doing instead of how we have been kind of sketchy.'

Gohuskies.com: Did Friday's double-overtime game take a toll on the team physically?

NM: 'Yeah. It was a long game. You get tired after those kinds of games, but at the same time everyone is playing those same games that you are on that Friday night. We just have to get past that. That game is over and we need to take care of ourselves on Saturday and stay focused the whole weekend. We've had trouble with those Sunday games.'

Gohuskies.com: What are your thoughts on going back on the road again?

NM: 'Back to the road. We're looking forward to it. We've done it enough times that we're in a good flow with the road games. We'll pick it up and we know what we have to do for the rest of the Pac-10 season. We're just going to try to improve ourselves for postseason play and hopefully get two Ws.'

Gohuskies.com: What are your future plans after the season ends?

NM: 'That's a scary question. I will probably coach a little bit. I'll be around here and hopefully help out the team or something if I can. Soccer is part of my life so it will probably still be part of my life for a long time.'

Gohuskies.com: Is coaching something you would like to pursue on a full-time basis?

NM: 'Probably for a while. It's something that I enjoy so much and I don't think I can just drop it so quickly. I'll definitely pick up a younger girls team and see if I can give back.'

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