Prior to the Chicago Red Stars’ first-round playoff match against San Diego Wave FC, Vanessa DiBernardo, Arin Wright and Coach Petrucelli met with members of the media to preview the match.
On the team’s state of mind heading into tomorrow’s match (from Annie Costabile)
Arin Wright: I think that we’re super focused. Obviously, we’ve had a lot to deal with in the last two weeks, but I think we took some time away, time to collect ourselves, time to just process everything that’s gone on internally and league wide. We’ve had time to come together from the front office staff to the technical staff to the players, and I think that was very good for us and we needed that, because it let us talk through everything we needed to, but since the middle of this past week we’ve been super zoned in and focused on the task at hand, which is playoffs and making it to the next step. I think everyone is in a clear state of mind right now, or the clearest that it can be and really just trying to do our job and get the win out of this weekend.
On the seventh straight playoff berth for the club considering the history of the club (from Annie Costabile)
Vanessa DiBernardo: I think that we’re excited to be here. I think because of what we’ve experienced in the past we know it’s not easy to get to this point and like Gilli (Arin) said we’re just looking forward to the game and focus on the game and we’re kind of excited to get to this point and play the game this weekend.
Wright: I think with the season, because of all that happened and all the changes that happened over the past few weeks with out team, there’s a little bit of a liberating feeling from that and there’s a part that’s even more the people that we’ve been wanting to see go for a bit are gone and now it’s kind of like let’s ******* do this. We’re excited. There’s more behind this playoff match than there ever has been before.
On how much communication the players have had with the front office and the board of directors over the last two weeks (from Annie Costabile)
Wright: It’s been very open. We’ve had our sit down meeting and we talked through things that we need to talk through right there and things that needed to be addressed currently, but they were in the same state of mind of, yes we need to deal with our emotions and everything that’s going on right now, but we are very focused on the game and we’re still in season and we want to focus mainly on that. We obviously have a long list of things we want to work through for this organization, but we both agree that we want to put those until right after season ends and focus on this. So we focused on the main things that need to be hit in that meeting and we all agreed that we want to move forward and put all of our focus into the weekend.
On if there has been any communication between the players and Arnim (from Annie Costabile)
On how Chris has helped guide the team through this adversary (from Claire Watkins)
Chris Petrucelli: First of all, I think they’ve handled it very well and they’ve been professional and when we’ve gone out for training, I don’t want to use the word normal, but it’s been very productive and they’ve really focused during those time periods. I don’t know that I’ve had to do that much except for sort of empower them to communicate and work through this thing and be there. I feel like it’s a group, I mean I’m sitting here with two people that you can see are very focused, very professional, so we’re very professional to have that within our team and they’ve been around it a lot longer than I have. I think the team it’s self, they’ve taken care of each other pretty well.
On how the team plans to break down San Diego (from Claire Watkins)
DiBernardo: I think we’re going to play our game and that’s what we’ve done all season long and I think we just have to stick to what our game plan is. In the past playing them, we felt like we haven’t put our best performance out there. I think we’re lucky to just get another opportunity to play them and to play how we think we can play this weekend.
Wright: I think in the last game that we played them in Soldier Field, in the end of the second half they were down a player, but we really felt like were started combining a little bit and we had some good combinations in the first half, so we kind of showed what we can do, we just didn’t connect all the pieces that we needed to. I think we’re really excited to go out and play them again because I think we left a lot to be desired in that game.
On how Rachel Hill and Sarah Luebbert are feeling and how long has Mallory Pugh been in training (from Claire Watkins)
Petrucelli: Mal’s been in training all week. Everybody is 100 percent and ready to go. We’ll be locked and loaded and ready to play.
On how much adrenaline is left from the last match (from Kyle Leverone)
DiBernardo: It honestly feels like it’s been a while since we’ve played a game. I think anytime you play in a playoff game there’s just a different feeling to it. There’s a different emotion and level you have to reach and you kind of just find a new ceiling in the game and you know that it’s all or nothing. I think there’s always a little bit more emotion and desire and fighting for each other on the field in the game whenever you reach the playoffs.
Wright: Like I said earlier I think this is a team that both times we played them we felt like we could’ve gotten a little more from that game. So I think the fact that it is San Diego, gives a little more umph and excitement for us because both the games we played, we’d love to have those games back.
On whether there is an advantage to the team because of previous playoffs experience (from Jeff Kassouf)
Wright: I think anytime that you’ve been in a position before that the other team hasn’t, it is a nice little edge. However, I will say when it’s your first year in something there’s always a little extra chip on your shoulder. So, I think that’s something to be aware of for us going into the game that they’re going to have that little extra fight and to make sure that we take our knowledge and experience from playing in these games before and use it to our advantage. So 100 percent I think playing in the playoffs before will help us, we just need to make sure that we use that affectively in the game.
On the advice to the first year players going into the game (from Sandra Herrera)
Wright: I would say to keep doing what they’re doing. A lot of these younger players have had to step into these roles all season and they’ve played a huge part in our success this season and I think when it comes to a game like this, there comes a lot of nerve and a lot of uncertainty and you questioning your abilities, but they’ve been doing the thing. They’ve made it happen and they’ve shown that they can compete at this level. So, keep being themselves, keep doing the foundations of what’s made the team good throughout the entire season and rise to the occasion, because they’ve done it already and it takes one more game for them to do it again. So, I don’t think that they really need to learn to do anything else, just keep being themselves, honestly. I think that’s been what’s made us successful.