Sept. 27, 2007
Junior forward Bob Dirks has tallied five goals and seven assists in nine games this season. Last season, the Malden, Netherlands, native led the team in goals (19), points (42), shots (91), and game-winning goals (6). Dirks and the No. 10 Eagles (7-2, 1-1 ACC) host No. 15 Duke on Friday at 7 p.m.
Congratulations on receiving Boston College's first ACC field hockey individual accolade as Offensive Player of the Year last season. You put up astounding numbers last year. How exciting was it to earn this honor?
Of course, it was really exciting. I totally did not expect it. During our ACC Tournament we were watching our women's soccer team in their ACC Tournament, which was also being played down where we were playing. So Leslie Hanna, a media relations intern, came up to the stands at halftime while I was sitting with Coach Ainslee Lamb and said, "Listen, listen, Bob got Offensive Player of the Year." I wasn't even paying attention, so I had no idea. Then Ainslee said "Oh my God. Bob, did you hear that?" and I said, "Wait. What?" It's always great to get an honor like that, but I think everyone should keep in mind that an accolade like that can be achieved only if you have a really good team behind you. You don't score goals if your defense doesn't get the ball up to you. Also, I think Katie Quaglia was one of the leading assist-givers in the ACC, which obviously puts me in a position to score goals. So I think that's very important to keep in mind.
The Eagles have played well this season, posting a 7-2 record thus far. What are your goals for the second half of the season?
We want to keep up the good work, obviously. Right now, we have every type of game left. We have some ACC opponents and some non-conference opponents to face. I think we really want to keep up the good work, keep working hard. This is the time of the year that's really hard because academics start to really demand something from you with midterms and all that. Physically, you're starting to get pretty tired. Right now, we're looking forward to only the next game, because that's what we always do.
The Eagles face No. 15 Duke on Friday. How important is that upcoming contest and how is the team preparing for the rival Blue Devils?
I think this game is going to have a big impact on whether we win or lose this season because after this we're either going to have a 2-1 winning record in the ACC or a 1-2 losing record. Also, next week we face UNC, which is going to be a very tough opponent. I think that Duke right now does not deserve a No. 15 ranking. I think they should be a lot higher than that, maybe No. 8 or something. They've lost a couple of games, but they were against very good opponents. Those losses probably sent them down in the rankings a little bit, but they didn't deserve to go down that much. I think we're an equal opponent right now. That's why the game tomorrow is going to be so good because I think we're both equally good this year. I know from playing them the past two seasons that they're a very determined team that goes after it. Last year, they had a lot of shots on us, but we still figured a way to win that game. I'm very excited to play Duke on Friday.
Talk about last year's game against Duke in which you scored the game-winner in the 93rd minute.
That game was probably as big a game as it's going to be this year. We went down to Duke and the day before the game we had a very good practice so we all had a confident, good feeling about the game. During the game, we just all felt like we could do it. We were behind 1-0, and then Crystal Frates scored the game-tying goal as she was tumbling in the circle. I don't know how she put it in the goal, but it was an amazing goal. So that was great and then we went into overtime. As soon as we went into overtime we all said to each other, "We're not losing this game. We got this far. We're winning this game." I think we really pulled it out together very well. The game was long and we were really tired and it was hot down there. In terms of the game-winner, I went around the goalie and I was on the baseline with the goal on my right. There was no angle, but I had the ball on my reverse, so I took a reverse shot. Obviously, it's more secure to take a normal shot, but I didn't think about that and just took my reverse chip. Thank God I ended up scoring that goal because I do not want to know what would have been the consequences if I had missed that goal. That was a very exciting game.
The four seniors who will be leaving the Eagles at the end of the 2007 season will be honored at Sunday's game against Maine. Talk about your senior teammates.
Our senior class is a very talented class that is also very social with all the other teammates. I think Brenna Leahy is doing a great job as team captain this year in leading us. I know sometimes it can be hard for a fifth-year senior to keep motivating herself to play, but she's been doing a great job with that. Crystal and I play together up front. We go through some hard times and some good times. It's going to be hard to see her leave at the end of this year. Caitlyn Young has always put forth a solid effort in the midfield. She always works hard. She also brings some fun to the games because she tends to fall a lot. Alyssa Emrick, who is out right now with a concussion, is back this season and it's great to have her back on the field. It will be hard next year because we're losing four girls that are playing a lot.
Talk about some players that you think have really stepped up this season.
Jenny Raftery has really stepped it up in the backfield. She redshirted last year because she was out with mono. She has been working so hard this year and you can tell. In the backfield with her, there's competition with Cristina Almendrales. Both of them are very good players and both of them are fighting for the starting spot right now. Both are doing really well and working hard for the starting spot. Up front, Chelsey Feole got a great opportunity last year to start as a freshman in a lot of games and this year she's really been stepping it up. In cases where Crystal and I were very well defended by the opponent, she found a way to sneak through and put the ball in the net, so that's very good, too.
How well have the freshmen adapted to the collegiate level and especially ACC play?
Emily Kozniuk, from Canada, started right from the first game on and she's doing amazing. As an opponent, you would not be able to tell that she's a freshman. She has so much experience and she works very well with the other backs. Janna Anctil, on the forward line, is also playing very well. It seems like she has no trouble adapting to the collegiate level because she scored in the fourth game of the season. She understands the game well and she doesn't need me to tell her what to do because she has a very good sense of it. I think Jessica Roberts and Lexy Ratering Arntz are not getting much playing time, but they both could. If they were in the game, there would be no difference because they would be as good as anyone else that's out on the field right now. It's harder for them to get playing time because you don't sub as much in the backfield and the midfield and it's harder to adjust to a new system at those positions. Lexy is from Holland and it's hard to adjust to a different system of playing. The two redshirts, Marlotte van den Bergh and Lauren Jackson, are doing very well keeping up the hard work. Sometimes it can be very hard to redshirt as a freshman and practice all the time and know you're not going to get any playing time. In the end, that's what you a play a sport for, to play in games.
How about the play of the backfield and goalie Julia Berkowitz?
First of all, Julia is doing an amazing job. She's a very talented goalie and I'm very happy to have her on our team. As a captain this year she steps it up because she is a very social person that gets along with everyone. She also does a good job coaching all the defenders. Also, as I said before, when it comes to Emily in the backfield, a lot of times you don't even notice that she's a freshman because she has such a good feel for the game and a lot of experience from home. I think the backfield is really working on marking and transferring the ball, which wouldn't really happen last year, but this year, our transfer balls are working so well. So I think a very good job all-around.
This season has provided many low-scoring, close games. What is the team's mindset when trying to protect a one or two-goal lead?
I think it depends on what kind of opponent you're playing. If it's an opponent that you know you should beat by more than one goal, you have to keep fighting and try to get another goal. But then if it's a game against a team in which you really want to get that win and you don't care about the final score then you try to hold it back a little bit more. You don't attack so much and you sometimes pull one of the forwards back a little bit to protect the dangerous space in the middle.
Chris Clements is a new assistant coach this year. Talk about the coaching staff this season and what Chris brings to the team.
The coaches are amazing. When I came in as a freshman all the way from Holland and it was very hard for me to adjust to everything, Ainslee was great. She's an incredible coach. I've never had a coach that I've gotten along with so well. She's your coach, but also your best friend. She'll make a good distinction between those, though. You could be crying in her office right before practice but then as soon as you step on the field, she won't make a difference between you, because you just cried, and any of the other players. That's very good because it will help you get your mind off of your crying. Chris is very cool. I was really sad to see Andrew Griffiths leave last year because I got along with him really well. But then I was excited for a new person because a new person brings new information; it's always a new challenge. He's very good. He's very smart with field hockey. He's really good on penalty corners and that's also what I'm very involved in, so I'm really excited about that because we've got some exciting new corners going. I think he and Ainslee work well together.
You are very dedicated to field hockey, but what do you enjoy doing with your free time?
Free time? In-season, sometimes I do question, "What is free time?" It's so busy because when you're not on the field, you're doing work for school, especially during this time of the year. When I'm free, I like to just hang out, a lot of times with people outside the team because I'm with my teammates all the time. Other times I like to just be by myself in my room. I try to spend a lot of time sending emails to my friends from home because they're far away and I can't really talk on the phone with them. I really try to keep in touch with my friends and, of course, my family from home. I have two sisters and a brother. My brother's not too big on emailing but my sisters are, so I keep that going and keep my contact with home.
You've played tennis and competed in gymnastics. What attracted you to field hockey?
I actually always played only individual sports. I played tennis, did gymnastics, and also played the violin. Everyone in my family played a sport and I liked to be different, so I started playing field hockey. Eventually, I had to give up tennis because gymnastics and field hockey took all my time. In Holland it's a popular sport for people of all ages. There are some huge teams there and some of the players are pretty old. You can practice all the time and play until you're old, so that's cool.
Interview conducted by sophomore Geoffrey Kehlmann