Following the Red Stars’ win against Angel City FC, Vanessa DiBernardo, Alyssa Naeher and Coach Petrucelli met with members of the media to discuss the match. Read the full match recap here.
On the feelings after the game (from Claire Watkins)
Vanessa DiBernardo: I think we’re proud. We all knew the playoffs started for us tonight, we had to win. So, I think it showed a lot of character from us. It’s a young group I thnk that experience and game plan right before the playoffs start is a good thing for us and how we finished the game and performed I think it was good.
Alyssa Naeher: It’s definitely been a rollercoaster of emotions the last ten days or so. I think last week was very deflating, more so because we lost the control of our own destiny. That one was a little bit harder in that regard. But we kept training all week and we knew that if we got the chance that we knew we wanted to be ready for it and take advantage of it. Obviously we got thrown a bit of a lifeline there with the San Diego and North Carolina result. Proud of the way the team was able to come out tonight and manage a lot of those emotions and we knew if we had a chance, we felt confident going into the game that we would be able to come together and if we played the way we wanted to, come away with the result. Proud of the group.
Chris Petrucelli: That was obviously a tough week just not knowing what was next if anything was next. But I felt the team was pretty focused in training all week. They never really flinched. I never really sensed that there were nerves or anything like that, even in the game I thought we were pretty solid for most of the game.
On the defense’s performance (from Claire Watkins)
Naeher: For sure. I think a lot of credit goes to both Tatumn and Amanda. Tatumn’s been, I think, 90 minutes every game on that left side and Amanda has been in and out and back in and she’s stepped up every time and come back in again. You said it with Arin. That speaks to her sportsman ship, who she is as a player and as a person to come into a role where she’s never played that position before, in a completely new system for her in that way. She did what she always does. She put her head down, she listened, she asked questions all week, she was trying to learn and fully understand what her role was and I truly admire the preparation she put into the week knowing that on Monday that this was what was going to be asked of her and it’s not an easy test with that Angel City front line. A lot of respect for Arin and her preparation and the performance tonight speaks for itself.
On the two weeks between the next match (from Jeff Vorva)
Petrucelli: Not all of us have two weeks between matches.
Naeher: I have a flight in seven hours.
Petrucelli: Given some of our bumps and brusies and that sort of thing, it’s probably a good thing. I’m excited for the guys that are going with the national teams and excited that they get the opportunity, but certainly not ideal timing as far as getting ready for playoffs.
On Naeher’s feelings on reaching the playoffs (from Zachary Draves)
Naeher: Yea I’m very grateful for the crowd that came out. It was a huge energy boost for us for sure to feel, I think they said it was 8,000 or so in the stands, which if memory serves that’s the biggest crowd since 2019 so, I think that’s huge. All season long we’ve kind of been getting through with a couple of thousand every game, so to have 8,000 people out tonight for the last game, we felt the energy we felt that and this has been a long year. We’ve had a lot of young players step up into different roles that they may not have been expecting coming into this season. We’re now starting to see a couple of the veterans come back in too and get a couple of minutes under their belt. I’m just proud of the way the group has gone about the year. We truly have gone one game at a time and I think that’s what helped us going into this week of “this is just the next game.” We’ve never been too focused on what’s happened in the past and just kept progressing that. This is the first check mark, we want to make playoffs, and now we’re in and we can shift our focus to, actually who do we play? [from the room “San Diego”}
Petrucelli: That’s how focused she is.
Naeher: On to San Diego.
On preparing for different playoff scenarios (from Sandra Herrera)
DiBernardo: I think what’s so good about this league is that the end of it is so wild and crazy. You do have to stay composed and put your head down and do what you need to do. I think this game was a little different because like you said it was win or get eliminated and we’ve been trying to get the last couple of spots the last two games of the year, but I think this is one of the few times when it’s down to the last game. It was a little different but I think with having had the experience in the past of getting into the playoffs we know what to do and what it takes and like Alyssa said earlier we were just given a chance and we felt good about it.
On Naeher’s thoughts on facing the penalty attempt (from Hernan Espinoza Jr.)
Naeher: I’m just glad it didn’t go in
On the fitness of Rachel Hill and Sarah Luebbert (from Claire Watkins)
Petrucelli: neither one of them were 100 percent and you saw Sarah had to come off. I thought they were really good. Sarah created the first goal. When they decided they were going to go at people, Sarah decided late in the first half and you saw Rachel in the second half, I think that was a big difference in the game. We put them back on their heels more and they were dangerous and they got back on the defensive end and defended. It’s just a warrior effort from the two of them and we had to have it. We absolutely had to have it.
On Alyssa and Vanessa’s thoughts on the playoff streak and their part in creating it (from Claire Watkins)
Naeher: For sure. There’s a number of us who have been here for a lot of years now and I think this is a special team for us and I think that camaraderie or that sense of team that we’ve been able to create over the years with each other, it kind of makes you want it a little bit more because you don’t only want it for yourself you want it for the person next to you too. I think you could feel that fight, you could feel that energy tonight. Getting Morgan and Arin back onto the field was huge for us not just in the sense of them being great players but they’re part of that core, they’re part of that group that set the standard without even having to say anything. You know it’s just the way they play, it’s just the way they carry themselves in training. I think I would like to specifically point out Vanessa and Danny who’ve [to Vanessa] have either of you even come off the field? Starting with the two of them grinding through a lot of minutes this year and to be able to keep such a high standard all the time. It’s not just on the field that you all see, it’s at training, it’s in the recovery and how you take care of your body and all those things. I learned from a lot of great veteran players my first years and now it’s our turn to be those veterans that bring the younger group, and credit to the younger group they’ve been very open and willing and engaging and they want to get better, they want to learn, they’re asking questions, they’re staying after at training, they’re stepping onto the field for big minutes. We’ve thrown nine rookies onto the field at some point this year. That’s a credit to them for being willing to embrace what we’re brining and create that locker room.
DiBernardo: she covered it.
On what the team is looking at headed into the San Diego match (from Sandra Herrera)
Petrucellli: First of all, we played them twice and couldn’t score a goal. We’re going to have to figure out a way to score. They have a national team players who aren’t going on the trip, so probably advantage to them. But I think that we will be ready to play. You saw tonight when the chips are down it really matters, it’s a group that’s ready to play and it’s led by players that are big time character people that can carry a team. I think the save that Alyssa made in the first half, it saved the game, because it would have been hard to go down. The pressure would’ve ramped up and all of that and it’s just who she is. You can see here what these guys are all about so they’ll be ready to play for sure.
On the advice Alyssa and Vanessa will have for the young players in their first playoffs (from Sandra Herrera)
Naeher: It’s a two week build, which is a little different than normal. I think it’s managing the front side of it, get some touches. It’s business as usual in a lot of ways. Yes its playoffs, it’s must win, but the more you focus on that side of it, what I would try to tell them is stay true to who you are and what’s brought you to this point and everyone is going to have to raise the intensity in some way or another. Even Mal tonight, she’s got all the expectation in the world. “Mal’s got to score a goal.” Mal scored a goal. Sarah made a great, I don’t know how she got past all those people, and the slips the ball to Mal and Mal finishes. Yuki is the other one to score a goal, another veteran player. Now it’s how do we create that, Yuki is the last one off the field everyday. Every single day Yuki is the last one off the field, shooting, hitting that exact same shot she hit tonight. That’s what they can take out of it. It’s all in the preparation the more prepared you are for the game then you’ve done everything you can do and the game is what it is, but we can focus on the preparation and we have a game plan and we have what the expectations are and then you just go out and play. You don’t have to think as much if you feel more prepared.
On Coach Petrucelli’s message to the team at halftime (from Jackie Gutierrez)
Petrucelli: We did talk a little bit at halftime about being smart but also trying to get another goal. We didn’t want to sit on the ball for 45 minutes and I thought we handled it really really well in the second half. We kept the ball. I mentioned it at the end of the game, way back in the beginning of this whole thing we talked about the importance of keeping the ball and we kept the ball pretty well in the first half and kept the ball away from goal and in the end gave us a great chance to score. A great goal by Yuki, so we had this thought of trying to be smart with the way we played, but also trying to get the second one.
On the two week break and how preparation looks like (from Jackie Gutierrez)
Naeher: well I don’t know why we keep calling this “a break” I think we have tomorrow off and we’ll start training again on Tuesday or Wednesday. The team will be prepared. We will go about the same schedule we’ve gone about all season and I think routine is important, consistency is important and not breaking from what we’ve been doing all year. Obviously Mal and I will be gone and we’ll be training. I think the unfortunate part of that is the long flights and the time changes with going to Europe that will be a little more challenging but I think we’ll stay on the same rhythm and routine that we have been all season and yes, it’s not ideal to wait two weeks for another game, but I think we had a couple of these throughout the year, getting these FIFA breaks and how we can learn from those and how we can best prepare for a game in two weeks.
"*" indicates required fields