After the Chicago Red Stars’ 4-0 win against Racing Louisville FC, Alyssa Naeher, Mallory Pugh, and Head Coach Chris Petrucelli met with members of the media.
On emotions over the last week and about the night’s result (from Claire Watkins)
Alyssa Naeher: Clean sheets are always obviously a focus of ours coming in, and I think for us, it was about hitting reset a little bit this week, not getting focused and caught up in, you know we were in a little bit of a skid, but we’ve been in this league enough to know that everything is a bit streaky about highs and lows. You go on winning streaks and losing streaks. We talked a lot about getting response tonight, starting this last stretch of six games, kind of breaking the season into that, so that was our focus on coming in. Just looking forward, not getting caught up on the easy emotions from previous [games]. We just want to put the ball in the back of the net, and obviously Mal did that tonight, Yuki did that tonight. I thought it was a great response from the team, both offensively and defensively, collectively.
Mallory Pugh: Yeah, I think that anytime you walk away from a loss like that, you have to internally reflect, and I think as a group, we did that. I think it just started at training, and we wanted to have a good training week, and we did. Training obviously translates onto the field in a game, so I think it just started on our response in training.
Chris Petrucelli: I thought the team handled themselves very well. There was no panic. In fact, Alyssa told me we were going to be okay. When she said that, I felt a lot better. We went about our business, and we said just focus on playing the next game. Obviously, that showed up tonight.
On Mallory Pugh redeveloping partnerships on the field with other Red Stars (from Claire Watkins)
Pugh: I think it took a little longer than I wanted it to, but I think it honestly just, like I said before, in training, it’s everyone. I don’t think it’s just me and Yuki and Bianca, I think it’s the group as a whole. I think that everyone was clicking, together. I think we all had the same goal in mind, so I think that obviously helps with the results.
On Mallory Pugh having the freedom to choose and having a fluid position on the field (from Jeff Kassouf)
Pugh: Honestly, it’s fun for me. I feel like we have three great midfielders who want the ball at their feet and in the pockets, and I think it really works well, because I’m able to stretch in behind, make myself plays behind, which I also like doing, but also coming into the pocket and being able to turn and run at players, as well. I think just having the freedom to do that, and reading off everyone, as a whole, it’s been good
On the benefit of the Red Stars consistency in their systems as a team (from Jeff Kassouf)
Petrucelli: I think that we’re seeing teams denied, trying to match our box and we were trying to exploit it to the point that they had to change. I think over the long run, we’ve gotten better and better at it, because it’s not how most of these guys grew up playing. It takes a little time to adjust all the little pieces of it.
On the effectiveness of the defense tonight, based off shots Naeher was saving (from Claire Watkins)
Naeher: I think if those are the opportunities we’re giving up, you know there’s a lot of dangerous players in this league that have proven that they can score from a distance, so we obviously need to be ready and prepared for it. But I give our back three a lot of credit. They’re shutting down, I thought Jess McDonald coming in in the second half made a huge difference for Louisville, so to be able to switch and adjust to a completely different style of player, I was proud of the group for that. To your point, those being the opportunities we’re giving up that speaks to the commitment of the back three, the commitment of the sixes to defend and force them to take those opportunities.
On how Petrucelli coaches the team to deal with the highs and lows and the different looks opposing teams will give them (from Claire Watkins)
Petrucelli: I think we’ve said all along let’s stick with the process and focus on the next match and work towards the next match, but I think you’re right, a lot of people have played a lot of minutes, given some of the injury situations that we’ve had. But those guys are pretty tough. Vanessa and Danny hardly ever come off the field and if you watch the game they don’t look too tired to me, they look pretty good.
On if the team played with a different mentality this game (from Hernan Espinoza Jr.)
Petrucelli: Certainly, at this point in the season every win is a big win. Every point is a big point. Taking three points right now helps us, it gets us back on the right track, it gets us back feeling a little bit better about ourselves because when you lose some games you start to question. Everything seems like it’s going poorly, it’s the good old it’s never as good as it seems or as bad as it seems, but somewhere in between lies reality and I think we were able to withstand a little bit of adversity and maybe some questioning. Certainly, the early goal helped us today to feel good about ourselves and get moving in the right direction.
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