Following the Red Stars’ loss to San Diego Wave FC, Alyssa Naeher and Coach Petrucelli met with members of the media to discuss the match. Read the full match recap here.
On overall impressions from the match (from Claire Watkins)
Alyssa Naeher: I thought we actually came out and played really well in the first half, that we kept the ball. We were moving it really well. There were a lot of good combinations, we created the goal by pressure. We changed formations a little bit, or at least tactics a little bit, and put four on the front line. Looked to use (Taylor) Kornieck and their speed up front to overload and create some different chances. I thought the game switched a little bit in the second half. I didn’t think we were able to keep the ball as much and then we started going a little bit more direct as well. So yeah, tough to go out like that, on a set piece.
Chris Petrucelli: I mean first of all, what a wonderful night for the league and for women’s soccer. The crowd was fantastic and the game was really hard fought, and there was quality play a number of times during the match. I do think I agree with Alyssa. The first half, I thought we were pretty good, and we probably should have got a second one. The game is a little different if we get that. As time wore on, we wore down a little bit. You know, players playing a lot of minutes, some of those who aren’t really fully fit because of injuries and things like that, so we wore down some as it went on. But we hung in right until the end. The quality of our play at times was really good, out effort was fantastic.
On playing the Starting XI as long as possible (from Claire Watkins)
Petrucelli: If you take a look at our bench, there’s a lot of young players. We were trying to ride our veteran players as long as we could, that was really what was going on.
On obstacles the team had to overcome recently coming to light and feelings about the season (from Claire Watkins)
Naeher: I think this was probably one of the more challenging seasons, truthfully. We started the season missing about 85 percent of our starting lineup due to injuries and pregnancies. We had a number of rookies and young players step up to fill roles that they maybe weren’t expecting to, they held their own and kind of helped get us to this point. This is probably the season I can remember the most that truly all 24, 26 players we had on the roster throughout the year and not just contributed, but contributed in big ways. I thought there was a lot of growth in the group. I’m proud of the group. So, to battle and fight all year through different bouts of adversity, different bouts of injuries, different bouts ups and downs, every season, that a team goes through. You’re getting a glimpse into what the last few years have been like here in Chicago, and I’m part of the veteran group for continuing to fight. When I say fight, I mean on and off the field and it takes a lot out of you, so to be able still come and show up every day, and do your job, and put in the work, and fight for your teammates, and fight for the person standing next to you… I think that’s what you saw this season, I think that’s what defined this group; coming together on the field as players and fighting for each other. This one hurts. This one hurts a lot, and it’s going to hurt for a little bit. It doesn’t change how proud I am of the group and the fight of the group, from day one until this point.
On the next steps for the players, looking ahead to next season (from Sandra Herrera)
Naeher: I think the next couple days will be the time to de compress from the season. Evaluating where you’re at, where the team’s at, seeing where everything’s going. You know, like I said, this one hurts. It’s going to take a few days to settle in and decompress from this game. Then, I think pretty quickly it will shift into next steps and where do we go from here, what that looks like. There will be, I’m sure, a lot of conversations to be had between the front office, coaches, and players. I think that’s one of the hardest things about any season ending. This group will not be on the on the field together, in this group of 24 players. That’s always what’s hard at the end of any season. For some of us, it’s been eight years together, for some of us, it’s been just one year, the last 11 months or so. But this group will not be on the field together again, I think that’s always the harsh reality at the end of the season. There’s going to be a lot of changes within the club, there’s going to be a lot of changes within the organization. I hope that players are a part of those conversations and next steps, and where we go from here.
On Petrucelli going through recent hardships beside the players (from Sandra Herrera)
Petrucelli: They’ve been fantastic from day one with me. Very welcoming, working hard every day, they’ve done everything that we’ve asked them. I think it’s a fantastic group of people that are really, super talented. But there is so much more to them than being soccer players. The things that they have endured and the way they’ve handled themselves, with such grace, is extremely impressive. We had a good season; I think we want more. We wanted more, coming into tonight. For a while there, we thought we were going to get more. I can’t say enough about the quality of the people that are in our locker room.
On what Naeher saw during Alex Morgan’s game winning goal (from Dan Lauletta)
Naeher: The corner kick got flicked to her, she collected it on the back post. She collected it well, and hit it hard to the far post. That’s one that I need to do better on, that’s one that I expect myself to make that save, and I need to make that save at that point in the game. Obviously, she hit it well, she put it on frame, and credit to her for doing that and finishing, putting her team ahead. But that’s one that I need to make that save.
On what changed between the first and second halves (from Dan Lauletta)
Petrucelli: I agree that we played some real good quality soccer in spurts in the first half. I think we’ve done that a number of times this year, but certainly it was evident tonight that we are capable of playing when we get the ball on the ground and start moving it, we’re pretty good. They got more and more direct, they threw an extra player up on a line, and at times, they had four across the line, so they flooded that. For us, coming in, we had really talked about really keeping the ball, and we did that in the first half, but we turned the ball over cheaply at times in the second half. That ended up getting us on the back foot a bit, or at least pinned in our end. Anytime they have time and space in the attacking half of the field, they’re serving the ball in the box. Most of the time Casey (Stoney) is telling them, “Get the ball in the other end, get the ball in the other end,” and so they’re knocking it long, they’re picking up second balls, and if they have time, they’re knocking it in the box. The big key was for us to try to keep the ball and I thought, again, really good in the first half. I don’t think it was bad in the second half, I just think there were times that maybe we weren’t as clean, and it cost us.
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