Q & A With Men's Soccer Coach Dean Wurzberger
Sept. 9, 2004
GoHuskies.com: What are your thoughts on how the season has started so far?
"We went over to Gonzaga which has traditionally been a hard place to play. They have not had a good home record the last year, but prior to that, they've been real difficult to beat over there. They've had many upsets - never us I'm happy to say, but we've played some very close games over there. Things clicked. We got a goal right at the second minute, our first shot from Brett Hite who is from Spokane, so it was kind of a dream start if you will. It gave the guys a turn of confidence that we could score. We scored three in the game, played well defensively and they never really threatened. So it was an ideal start for us.
"Then we were faced with this tough road swing which we knew was going to be hard back east. Playing our second game on Saturday at UConn, it was an incredible performance to get a result there. It was so much like the 2001 game when we played there, we scored early with a good quality goal, tried to keep scoring but at some point we said, hey, we've just got to close this game down, and we'll win it 1-0. Those games tend to be real stressful for the coach because every little chance could be the equalizer for them. But we defended well. The guys tactically at halftime really took a hold of the gameplan which was to sit with two holding midfield players because they were creating some problems with their forwards coming off the front into midfield. So they were adding numbers in an area we only had one player, our defensive midfield player (Mike) Chabala. So we decided to put a second guy there, really helped to deal with the flood of players in that area and lucky for us, they ran out of some ideas and we managed to get a great win there, 1-0.
"Challenge number three, to put it back on the road, to go to New York City was a real challenge. Originally this was supposed to be a tournament at UConn and it ended up to be two road games, so it was a lot tougher than we really would have chosen. We gained a lot from that game versus St. John's, although we did suffer our first loss. It was a performance where I think we saw a different style of play, it was on field turf so it was on a different surface. No question, though, the third game in six days, you could start to see the leg weariness in our players, especially our defenders. We were jumping over people and heading balls with a foot clearance, we weren't winning them anymore. C.J. Klaas, Ty Harden, Will Flanagan - our starters in the back - they just didn't have any spring in their legs. It's three games in six days, it's changing time zones. Hey, we accept that, that's what we conditioned for but had we not had that great preseason and been in such great condition we would have suffered a worse defeat there. Most teams, under those circumstances, would have taken three or four goals there.
"So to eke out a 1-0 loss, is not the worst result. We were disappointed but to be fair to them, we really never had any serious offensive opportunities. We had so much to do to defend, we couldn't get our offensive game going and we didn't look like scoring in that game. They kept pecking away and sure enough, got a half-chance from all their dominating play in the attacking third. They were down at our end a lot of the time. So our hat's off to them under those conditions, with us playing our third consecutive road game in six days, they were better than we were. I'd love to play them again on equal footing, so to speak, the same amount of rest. They also played Friday, we played Saturday. Not to take away from them, they're a very strong side and I'm sure they're going to do well. But I think we come away realizing that if we were at full strength and rested, we could play with a team like that. They were very direct and physical, they exploited more of our defensive weariness playing very direct, right down the middle forcing a lot of challenges and heading duels. That takes a lot of energy and leg power to withstand that type of attack.
"One of our goals coming in and one of the keys to turning around the season last year was to cut down the goals against and to go three games on the road, and come back with only one goal against is absolutely phenomenal. In the late 90's and early 2000, we'd go back there and we would lose to average opposition. We had some terrible losses in the East Region, whether it was the time change, or whatever. To play this quality of opposition, to come back 2-1 from those three games is a very strong start for us."
GH: Which individual performances grabbed your attention?
"We're looking at a host of different people up front and one of the things we realized from the St. John's game is that we put so many different players up front that we lost continuity. We do think we need to adjust that, maybe give one group of players a longer run, 70 minutes, before we start pulling people.
GH: Your three freshman forwards saw quite a bit of playing time last week. How are they coming into form?
GH:What will be the key for the team to get through this tough early schedule?
GH: What are your thoughts on this weekend's tournament in Las Vegas, facing UNLV and No. 13 Creighton?