Nov. 9, 2011
Chestnut Hill, Mass. -
Senior Alyssa Pember has helped anchor the Boston College defense for the past four seasons. Having played in the Sweet 16, the Elite Eight, and the Final Four, she hopes to use this experience to continue BC's success in the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles will host Marist College in the first round of the tournament this Sunday at 1 p.m. on the Newton Campus.
Q: You are part of a defense that is ranked 21st for Goals Against Average and 23rd in shutout percentage. What makes this defense so strong?
A: What makes our defense so strong is the amount of communication that goes on all the time. We have two seniors playing in the back, and we've mixed a lot of different people in on defense, but we're strong in the sense that everyone works hard to cover for each other, they're communicating, and everyone knows what they're supposed to be doing and where they're supposed to be going. We just try really hard to stay on top of everything.
Q: What has been your greatest challenge this season?
A: Well going off of having to change our defense a lot, trying to find the right personnel to work in the system has been hard. We've had to make changes all over the field, too, not just on defense. We came into the season and one of our players, [Victoria DiMartino], had to get surgery. So we had to fix that and figure out where we were going to put our players up top. Then trying to find the formation that worked best for us was tough. We had a slow start to the season, but we've been going forward from there and are continuing to get better, and that's exactly where we want to be right now.
Q: After reaching the Sweet 16, the Elite Eight, and the Final Four, and now making the tournament for your fourth straight year, did you ever dream of accomplishing so much when you decided to come to BC?
A: Well, that's something that everyone would love to accomplish. For me, it seems so perfect that it's hard to even imagine that we've done it. We got better and better each year, and I think it's something that our senior class has taken a lot of pride in. I know our seniors from last year also took a lot of pride in it, since they were such a major factor in helping the program move forward. It's amazing to look at what we have accomplished. We came in my freshman year and Coach [Alison Foley] was always saying that if we could do this and do that, then we would be making history, and it has always seemed like we have been making history within this program. It has been such a good feeling to know that we came in and had a say in what happened were able to change the course of BC soccer.
Q: What is it that made you want to play here at Boston College?
A: Before coming here I knew a lot of girls that played here. I even knew the girls that were interested in coming. I've played with almost every single one of them either on a regional or a national team. When we found out that we were all interested in BC, it made us become even more interested. I had played with Kelly Henderson and Gina DiMartino on previous years through club soccer and looking at how good those girls were, it made me believe in the program, since I didn't know very much about it when I first started looking at BC. So they came here and got me really interested in it and when I looked at the program and saw how it improved from season to season I knew that I wanted to be a part of that. I didn't want to go to a team that was ranked first in the country because you're not a part of them getting better. I wanted to be a part of something where I could really help them move forward.
Q: What are the expectations for this year's tournament, and how much influence does last year's success have?
A: I think the whole year, knowing that we went to the Final Four last year and understanding what an accomplishment it was, has helped us want to get back there. It's hard to describe the feeling you get when you win that last game to reach the Final Four. It was an amazing feeling that I wish I could have every day. The Final Four was an awesome experience and I think that for everyone who was a part of it, it made us want to work even harder to return this year, because you never want to let go of those feelings. So our expectations for this year are exactly the same: we want to make the Final Four, we want to win a National Championship and that's the goal that we all have right now.
Q: Is the team doing anything different to prepare?
A: We're not necessarily doing anything different than last year. We have different personnel that are working on different skills in order to help us improve in certain areas, but our overall goals are the same. We just want everyone to stay on the same page and to keep working hard to reach those goals.
Q: Will you look to continue playing soccer in the after you graduate? What are your plans for the future?
A: I honestly do not have any idea about what my plans are for the future, so I'm trying to keep all of my options open. Right now I'm focusing on soccer and this semester and trying to hold on to everything that college has to offer. I'll look more into the future when the time is right, but I can definitely see myself playing soccer. Who wouldn't want to continue playing a sport that they love?
Q: What do you enjoy most about being a part of Boston College soccer?
A: I really love the community. Even just within BC Athletics, the community is amazing. Everyone is very close, and you always have people looking out for you, even if they aren't on your team. Our administration is great, and there's always someone that you can turn to and talk to. More specifically within the team, though, we are all really close and I've walked away from each season with so many great friendships. Last year I was great friends with all six seniors, and this year I have 23 other friendships with all the girls on the team. It's nice to see new people come into the program and how well they mesh with everyone else, and how close all of the freshmen are with everyone now. It was only three months ago that they came in, but now we're all best friends. I think that is what has helped us do so well, is that we respect each other so much that we all work our hardest for one another.
Q: Outside of soccer, what will you miss most about BC after graduation?
A: I am definitely going to miss everything. College is amazing and no one ever wants to leave it. Even though you have responsibilities at college, it's a different type of responsibility that you get once you leave. A huge thing that I'm going to miss though is being around all the people that I'm around every day. I won't be with the girls on the team and I'll miss being on campus. I love BC and I will miss everything about it.
Interview by sophomore Matt Moran