Wisconsin mens soccer head coach Jeff Rohrman spoke to the media on Monday during Wisconsins weekly news conference. Rohrman talked about the Badgers season so far in his first year as head coach. Wisconsin currently own a 4-0 overall record. A transcript of the news conference follows.
Opening Statement: Well, weve had a very good start as most of you know. We did very well at the Rocky Rococo-Wisconsin Soccer Classic finishing 2-0 overall. This past weekend on the road for the first time, there were some challenges. Also a couple of teams we werent overly familiar with, both teams coming from the West Coast. We knew it was going to be a big challenge. Gonzaga was an NCAA tournament team last year. I think they beat UCLA last year and lost to Portland 1-0, so we knew that they were going to be a quality side. At Oregon State, their coach there is now in his fourth year. Hes had a few good recruiting classes and theyre also in a very good conference, I think they are PAC-10. I think they are going to surprise some teams. They certainly showed us what they were capable of on Sunday. I think they are going to be a team that, down the road, this win for us is going to be big. This weekend weve got Valparaiso on the road and Illinois-Chicago. We know a little bit about both of them and I think they are both going to be hard, physical types of teams. I hope our athleticism and speed will once again allow us to prevail.
Are you happy with your scoring so far Yes, you know its funny. I was thinking about it the other day. In our first weekend, we had four different people score goals for us and then again this weekend we had four different people score again. Its nice that we are able to find ways to score and also to win games. We havent played well on the second day of these weekend type formats. I thought we came away from the Florida Atlantic game feeling good about our win, but not feeling too well about our performance. It was something we talked about on Friday after we beat Gonzaga and we really wanted to make a commitment to play well on Sunday. We came out a little bit flat in the first 25 minutes, but against the flow of play, we found a way to score. That was encouraging. We actually could have gone up 2-0 just before half. In the second half, I think we played with a lot more emotion and a lot more intensity. It was a great game, an unbelievably emotional game. They tied it with 11 minutes to go on a penalty kick and then our team really showed their true character and heart and scored on a corner kick with just under six minutes to go. That was great and also worked out well because they changed our flights, so we had to get to the airport and pretty much leave right away. Had we gone into overtime, it would have been trouble.
Talk about defense. Its not just about Eric Hanson, is it No, all of our backs have played really well and they all deserve the credit. Eric really blossomed this spring. I continually talked about how he took his game from this level to the next level. But really, there is just a collective will with those guys in the back to never give up a goal. They understand that their job is to defend and not give up goals and they have done a great job so far. I just found out the Joe Anderson was voted Big ten Defensive Player of the Week and he was also the Defensive MVP of this weekends tournament. But, its not just Joe. Its senior John McGrady who plays right next to him. Those two guys have been together all spring and all through preseason, so they have been able to work the kinks out for some time now and it has really really payed off.
Has there been anything about this team or this job that has surprised you It has gone very well. I really didnt have any expectations as to where it would go. I believed it would go well. I wasnt sure how long it would take to start seeing us perform well given the fact we had some new bodies coming in. But after the spring, I really had a good chance to see the strength and the character of the people that are on this team. Ive alluded to this before. We have six seniors, a couple of which are fifth-year seniors who really havent made any noise as far as the soccer world is concerned. They are very commited, that makes my job a little easier when youve got that kind of senior leadership and that kind of commitment to performing well every single time we take the field.
Comments on the possible disconnection between high school programs and the UW soccer program in the past: Again, coming from the East Coast, I was a little bit removed from everything that was going on here. I think weve taken great steps towards mending those bridges. Certainly, the hiring of Nick Pasquarello and Jon Szczepanski has helped a great deal. Obviously, Jon is a Milwaukee native and Nick played here in the early 90s. We have tied a little bit into the Milwaukee community and also the alumni in the regard. I think I made an effort through the spring and through the summer to get back in touch with some of the people I knew from my time in Milwaukee and certainly Jon has great connections there as well. I think in the big picture, we have taken some great steps forward as far as mending those bridges and re-establishing those connections.
Are you just taking a wait and see attitude for next years recruits As far as this next class, for 2003, weve had a lot of positive feedback. I think there are a lot of players that are now taking a look at us. But its still early in the season. I think a lot of people have noticed that we are doing things a little bit differently. We are taking some steps forward. You can see how happy the players are and that is certainly going to pay some big dividends down the road.