Nov. 11, 2004
In a special edition of the Q-&-A feature this week, senior Laina Ceddia discusses the women soccer team's upcoming first-round game against No. 24 Florida State in the NCAA Division I Tournament. Last Friday, the Eagles lost to second-ranked Notre Dame 2-0 in a BIG EAST Tournament Semifinal game.
Q: Describe the team's morale coming off last Friday's 2-0 loss to Notre Dame in the semifinal round of the BIG EAST Tournament.
A: The team is really positive. We took that loss as a learning experience, and we know some more strategies in what we need to do to win games for the tournament. Making it to the NCAA has totally boosted our morale, and we're very confident we can beat any team any given night. Everyone feels that way.
Q: What was your reaction to being picked as an at-large team, set to face No. 24 Florida State?
A: We were very excited to be in the tournament. At the same time, we have been there before and have never actually won a game. We are excited to win, and we have the confidence that we can beat this team and go to the next round.
Q: What have your coaches, particularly, emphasized this week going into Friday's showdown with Florida State?
A: We're going at them in an attacking style, where we play straight up. Our coaches are emphasizing that if we go at a team playing our style of play, we can beat any team. We're not going to play defensively and think that, `Oh, maybe they are better than us.'
Q: Do you approach an elimination game such as an NCAA Tournament contest differently than a BIG EAST regular season matchup?
A: Yes, definitely. Obviously, you get up for every game but it's much easier to get up for bigger games at this point in the season. It's really just about your mentality at this point. It takes that extra effort, and everything is focused on that. You get your schoolwork done way ahead of time so that you don't have to think about anything else except for that game. Everyone is so hyped up, and the mentality is just amazing. At practice yesterday, everyone who did not have to do extra sprints got in line to do them anyways because this is when we need to stick together more than ever.
Q: Last year, your team lost in the first round of the NCAA Division I Tournament to Central Conneticut State on Newton campus. What experience can you bring with last year's NCAA Tournament appearance under your belt?
A: Well, I think that last year we took them very lightly. It was a team that we had beaten during the regular season. Maybe, without even knowing it, we overlooked them and foresaw us playing UConn on Sunday. Judging by the way we played, I think that was our mentality. With that experience last year and seeing how quickly it can be taken away, we definitely learned that we should only focus on Florida State until we win.
Q: What advice have you given or will you give to teammates going into Friday's game?
A: It's a lot more competitive than it has ever been. Every team is just as psyched up as you are. No team is going to come out like it is a regular game. Teams that might not have been as successful during the season can really step it up during the postseason. You need to expect that everyone is going to come at you strong. You need to be the one to score the first goal or take the first hit or win the first ball from the very beginning to set the tone.
Q: Coming into the BIG EAST Semifinal game, the Eagles rode a four-game winning streak. How do you regain that momentum at this crucial part of the season?
A: A lot of it has to do with not putting our heads down about Notre Dame. You take the things we can learn from that game. You take the fact that we have been on a winning streak. In the beginning of the season we completely turned our season around. At first we realized that if we didn't pick it up, we might not reach the BIG EAST Tournament. We've had two losses to Notre Dame which is hard, but we have learned a lot from both games. We have the confidence that we can play with this team, and if they are second in the nation we can play with anyone.
Q: As one of four seniors on the squad, what are you most proud of looking back on your last three and a half years at the Heights?
A: We're most proud of the improvement we have made every single year, not only on the field, but also off the field. Coming in as a freshman, I didn't feel as connected to the team - and maybe part of that is just being a freshman. Each year, we have gotten stronger and stronger as a unit. Teams like that win championships. Sometimes I'll look to a freshman for advice, or a freshman will look to a junior for advice. It's all mixed up there, and that's something off the field that I'm really proud of over the past four years. Obviously, that leads to on-the-field success.
Q: What do you enjoy most about playing for Head Coach Alison Foley?
A: I really enjoy the competitive atmosphere that she always puts us in. You're always excited to be at practice. Our team shines when it comes to competitiveness. It's not just working on technical things, but it also is about improving your character as a player. She doesn't let you quit.
Q: Talk about this team's youth. With young impact players such as Kia McNeill and Tara Luciani, what does the future hold?
A: I definitely see a lot of success. Every recruiting class has been stronger than the last. It keeps the talent coming, but it also keeps challenging your returning players so that everyone gets better. Having so many players on the field as freshmen and sophomores - we only have three upperclassmen starting at this point - shows how much potential we have.
Q: How did it feel to be named to the All-BIG EAST Second Team?
A: It means a lot to me. It was the first award I've ever really received in college. I might have been named Rookie of the Week sophomore year, but this was the first really prestigious award I've received. To be honest, the two people that I got it with - Jenny Maurer and Lindsey McArdle - made the award so much more valuable to me because all three of us were Massachusetts players. We're all a sort of diamonds-in-the-rough type of thing. Getting the award with them made it so much better. It's definitely an honor.
Q: Will you or your team have any pre-game ritual or visualization technique going into the NCAA Division I Tournament?
A: We are a very big superstitious team. We do `psyches' before every game. In the regular season, everyone signs up for a different game where you write a poem or a rap, or we have had some dances made up. This will be the first year that we do the psyches in postseason. So, Kate Taylor and I are planning a psyche for the Florida State game, and hopefully that will help our mentality before the game.
Next week: The Athletics Department will feature men's basketball senior co-captain and starting center Nate Doornekamp.