Two of the most experienced, and humble, women’s soccer coaches in the world shared their views on today’s tactics during the post-game press conference following the 2009 Women’s College Cup. North Carolina coach, Anson Dorrance, says it’s tough to play against UNC for the first time due to the high pressure his players apply throughout the match. Not surprisingly, Stanford’s Paul Ratcliff says the same thing. Have a listen below.
Anson Dorrance, UNC Head Coach
Obviously we have a unique style, and we try to bring that to bear against every team we play. Our philosophy isn’t horribly profound, it’s just basically a work ethic. Our team doesn’t put up with any divas. If you’re going to be on the field for the Tar Heels, you going to put your hard hat on and you go to work. We sprint to close down people and make it difficult for any team to play. Stanford is a remarkable team – you can look at their record coming in – with talent at every position and extraordinary talent coming off the bench. We’ve tried to design a system that’s difficuly to play against that’s predicated on work ethic and high pressure. I think it’s hard for other teams to replicate that in practice. So often times, even when a quality team plays us for the first time, it’s a bit of a shock.
I think the teams that we play against – the players are getting better and better, and I think the coaches are too. But there’s something interesting about pressure in our game. Mike Tyson has a great statement. He says, “Everyone has a plan until the first punch.” So, if you’re looking at our system, and you’re looking at it on paper, it’s very easy to beat. Knock it over the top, run onto it, etc. Hold it in the back, because we’ve only got three forwards pressurizing four backs. There are all these different ways to solve it on paper. But there’s a completely different issue when you’re out there trying to play against it, and we’re forcing you to play at a speed you’re not comfortable with. So all of a sudden a player that is incredibly skillful at one speed – you take the notch of the game up a degree or two – and all of a sudden their game breaks down. So what we try to do, we try to make the other team play faster than their capable of playing. What we try to do, and the girls know this, we try to play absolutely as fast as possible. We try to play like the Arsenal. Wenger, he is my role model in soccer coaching. His teams play the game faster than any team in the world. And we try to play the game absolutely as fast as we can offensively, and we try to force our opponents to play faster than they can offensively. That’s our fundamental game plan going into every single game. Now obviously, what makes this work is the players sitting around me.
Paul Ratcliff, Stanford Head Coach
It was a disappointing way to end the season, but overall I’m really proud of this team and what they’ve accomplished throughout the entire season. I think it’s just getting used to the swarming around the ball. North Carolina does great job of pressuring and swarming the ball. It’s easy to talk about as a coach, what you need to do, but it’s difficult in there, especially with slick conditions. It was hard for us to get into a rhythm and really play our type of soccer. It wasn’t a fantastic game for us, we can play better, but you have to give North Carolina a lot of credit. They played, they put you under pressure, and they make it difficult for you to get into a rhythm.
UNC senior defender, Whitney Engen
I also wanted to share with you a special quote from Whitney Engen of North Carolina, as she shared her thoughts on Women’s Professional Soccer in the post-game press conference.
I think we’re all really fortunate that there is a women’s professional league, and I think we were all really encouraged last year watching a couple of our teammates actually complete and play. It is great to know that there is a next step, and this doesn’t have to be our last competitive game. That there are a lot of people on our team that have a lot of careers in soccer. I think that it’s great. It’s awesome for the women’s sport, and I hope that this league is able to continue to sustain itself because it’s fun to watch…. and I’m hoping it’s going to be fun to play in.