On The Pitch With Casey Cunningham

Sept. 19, 2008

Junior Casey Cunningham and the Huskies make their official home debut this weekend after playing their first five matches on the road. Washington is happy to be home after a see-saw start to the season that included two wins and three losses. Cunningham, an All-Pac-10 honorable mention selection last year, is a central defender for the Huskies and will be a key to UW's success on the pitch. The Arizona native talked to GoHuskies.com this week about his thoughts on the season thus far, how the freshmen are adjusting and what led him to the Pacific Northwest.

GoHuskies.com: What have the ups and down been like this season?
Casey Cunningham: 'We started off with a down weekend in Portland, but came back pretty strong in South Carolina. The ups and downs are like in any season. When we play well and play together things work out. When one person is down and no one else picks him up we have bad weekends.'

GH: How does the team account for the sporadic scoring?
CC: 'Having everyone communicating, working hard together and for each other leads to goals much more easily than one person having to do everything. It's hard to account for the differences in our scoring outside of that.'

GH: You're finally home, but are you just happy to be out of Portland?
CC: 'Portland hasn't been a good place for us as of late, but we hope to pick it back up at home. Since I've been here we've played pretty well on the road. We try to emulate road games when we're at home. Just like the football team we get together the night before and have a pre-game meal so we can duplicate what we do on the road.'

GH: How difficult is it for the young players to play so many early games on the road?
CC: 'It's got to wear on them a little. You're not used to traveling so much and when school starts they won't be used to missing so much. Right now I don't think it's that bad because other guys on the team have done it before and help them out. But with so many young guys on the team it has got to wear on them.'

GH: What are you looking forward to in the home opener?
CC: 'The fans that support you are always great. It's nice to give back to the school that has supported you so much and you want to go out and perform well for them.'

GH: What do you tell the freshman about adapting to college?
CC: 'It's not going to come right away. They need to work hard. Once they get back into the groove of things just like they were in their youth, everything will start to mesh together. It will come easier to them than it has been.'

GH: How hard is the adjustment for the freshman forwards?
CC: 'The adjustment of replacing three players that are all in the pro ranks now brings quite a bit of pressure. They're the new generation and they'll be just as good if they work hard at it. They are extremely gifted and as you can see, when they are on and the team is on they can score goals at will. They have big shoes to fill, but they'll be able to do it.'

GH: How important is a good start to Pac-10 play?
CC: 'It's going to be pretty important. Pac-10 starts right as school starts so it will be a big adjustment. We're going to have to do things that we know we can do and just work hard to have a good conference season.'

GH: Given that you're from Arizona, why Washington?
CC: 'I went on recruiting trips to other schools, but when I came here I just knew it was right for me. The coaching staff is professional. The atmosphere here is really good with a good athletic department and a good school.'

GH: Since neither Arizona or Arizona State have men's soccer, was it a foregone conclusion that you would leave the state to play?
CC: 'Absolutely. I always wanted to play in college. So unless a school in Arizona got a program I was going to go somewhere else to pursue my dream of playing college soccer. Now that I look at it, this is where I am supposed to be, so it worked out.'

GH: Where does this team stand against the other teams you've played on?
CC: 'I think it's one of the best teams I've been on if you see us when we are playing well.'

GH: Thanks, Casey. Good luck this weekend.
CC: 'Thanks.'

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