Soccer's Kelly Henderson Sets Expectations High
Sept. 11, 2009
Senior Kelly Henderson has tallied eight career goals and 13 career assists as a four-year starter. She played midfield for her first three years before switching to the back line this year. In 2008, she earned Soccer Buzz Northeast Region first-team honors and was named to the NEWISA second-team. As a co-captain this year, she has helped lead the Eagles to a 4-0 start. Henderson and the No. 16 Eagles will take on Marist this Friday, September 11, at 4 p.m. in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
The Women's Soccer team is having a great start to the season - 4-0 - unbeaten and unscored upon and holding Fairfield on August 28 to only one shot. What are some of the key elements to the team's success?
I think our coach has set the expectations high this year and right now we are committed to the hard work in order for us to obtain our goals. Everyone on our team knows what it takes and I think that's really important for our success.
This year, you switched from midfield to the backline. When did the coaches ask you to switch to the defensive side?
Coach and I had the conversation in the spring. I played center back all through the spring season because we knew we graduated Caroline Walden, a really good center back. So I trained there with our back line - the five of us with our goalie and the four backs. We played together all spring and actually all summer, too. So I kind of knew after Caroline graduated, I would be filling her shoes at center back.
When you had that talk with the coaches, did you have any reservations about the change from midfield to defense?
I love playing in the midfield. But I'd played center back a couple of times my freshman year here and there. I was a kind of hesitant about the switch, just because I love going forward. But as we're going to be playing more challenging opponents, I'm really excited for it. Once we play against big-name forwards, it's going to be awesome in the back. I love the girls I play with because we've played together for so long and we play really well together, so I'm settling into it now.
Since joining the back line, what has been your experience playing in front of Jillian Mastroianni in goal?
She's great - everyone knows how great she is. But also this year, she has more of a presence in net. She's always talking, screaming, and giving us instruction. We want a shutout just as bad as she does. I feel like usually it's the goalie that wants this, but we all take it personally if the other team gets a shot off.
Freshman Victoria DiMartino was recently named this week's ACC co-player of the week, as well as TopDrawerSoccer.com's player of the week. Talk about Victoria and the other freshman additions and how they have influenced your team in these first few games.
Vicki has come in and I feel like usually it takes a few games for a freshman to adjust to the college level. But right from the bat, she has been scoring and assisting out of control. I think she's surpassed all the expectations, because she didn't need that transitional period most freshmen need to adjust to the speed and even her strength and size. And Kristi (Kristen Mewis) has done really well and adjusted well on the field. Alicia (Alicia Blose) coming in off the bench has kept our level high and I think that's really big this year, because we have players that can come off the bench and keep us playing really well. A lot of the freshmen have done extremely well and I know that they all want to get to the Final Four just has much as we do, so it's awesome they came in and have that attitude right away.
So that is one of your goals right from the start. You've been to the Sweet 16 two times in your three years at BC and you know how that feels. How will the team prepare for the main goal of making the Final Four this season?
Gina (DiMartino) and I had goals our freshman year ... we wanted to advance a round every year. And we just can't seem to get past that Sweet 16. And this year, more than any other year, we definitely deserve to. We have been working so hard in practice and that's just in the back of our minds for everything we do. I think as long as we keep that mentality through the ACC, we'll definitely be there. But it's just as coach says, "It's not a sprint, it's a marathon," so hopefully we can keep winning.
Looking to your first conference game on Sept. 24 against Miami, will these non-conference wins give you the confidence you need upon beginning ACC competition?
Yes, definitely. Because then I feel like as long as coach would be happy, then we all would be happy. I know that if we even give a goal away or tie a game that we aren't supposed to, it brings everyone down and then you have to take the time to rebuild. Whereas, if we get all the wins that we're supposed to and we keep scoring and keep defending well, then we'll definitely be confident and I feel like we can move forward, since our opponents are going to be that much tougher, that much quicker, stronger. I feel like then we can enter the ACC with the perfect mentality.
What have you and your co-captain Gina DiMartino focused on with your teammates so far this year? What are some changes that you have noticed, stepping into your new leadership role?
I feel like I am always very vocal on the field--because I know that if I am talking, I need to be playing well. I've always been like that, but I feel like being a captain and senior, it's more of the off-the-field things and small things that matter, and making sure everyone's on the same page, with classes and in practice. Those little things set the tone and the environment for the team, like at halftime, when Gina and I talk to the girls before Coach comes over. I always communicate, so that hasn't changed, but I definitely have much more responsibility and awareness as a captain.
You mentioned academics in relation to the team. BC has always stressed being a student first, and then an athlete. I know that your Coach feels strongly about that as well. Has it been hard over the course of your four years here to adjust and balance the academics with soccer?
It's hard because so many of us see soccer first because we want to win so badly. Since we're here three weeks before class even starts, it is completely soccer-oriented at first. But then right when classes start, you remember that you are a student-athlete and everything comes into perspective, which is great because our coaches are definitely great on the road with giving us time to do work. What I mostly learned from being a student-athlete here at BC is that balance is the key to everything. You have to learn that academics are equally, if not more important, than athletics. It's great that our coaches put it in such high regard and give us time to adjust to it. Being the first week of classes, that's most important. But when it comes to Friday and classes are over and we're on the soccer field, soccer is the only thing we can think about.
You've started every soccer game since arriving on campus as a freshman. Tell us about one game or play that was particularly exciting or memorable to you.
That's hard, I feel like all of my years blur into one. But probably my freshman year, when we played Rutgers in the second round. Rutgers was a great team and we went into PK's. It was absolutely freezing cold and everyone was on the sidelines standing up. When we scored the winning goal, advancing in my first Sweet 16 and my first [NCAA] tournament was that much more exciting. It was such a great feeling, because I wanted to get there so badly and it was such a team thing, holding hands in the freezing cold, can't feel your feet. Beating Rutgers and advancing was incredible.
Interview conducted by Caryn Switaj