Mindy Quigg, head coach of the women’s soccer team, is no stranger to the NCAA tournament. Since Quigg took over the helm in 1994, the Bombers have earned 14 NCAA playoff berths, including trips to the Final Four in 1998 and 2011.
Staff Writer Steve Derderian sat down with Quigg to discuss a potential return to the Final Four.
Steve Derderian: Is your team more comfortable this time around after hosting and playing in the third round and quarterfinals last season?
Mindy Quigg: There’s a familiarity to it, certainly, which I think is powerful for us. I think we feel more urgency. My assistant coach, Jeff Long, said it best — “We’re the hunted now not the hunter” — and I think that provides a different outlook on things. I think our players are really excited about getting to host again.
SD: What do you think is the biggest positive for the team getting home field advantage?
MQ: It’s just being home. It’s the familiarity with the field and their comfortable place.
SD: You defeated Misericordia back in October 1-0. Will it take anything different to beat them again?
MQ: Absolutely. I’m sure they’ve matured, as have we, and that was a very equal game back then in early October. They have two dynamic forwards and a strong and really hardworking midfielder, and they’re a very physical team. I think it’s going to be a very close match.
SD: When looking at your team from the beginning of the season until now, what differences can you see?
MQ: They’re trusting themselves more, which leads them to be more creative on the field. They’re not looking to the coaching staff as much. They’re making their decisions based on their experiences now and are playing well together as a unit. Everything is a lot more fine-tuned, but we still haven’t played our best soccer yet.
SD: If your team hasn’t played its best soccer yet, then when do you expect that to happen?
MQ: It has to happen pretty soon, because as the number of teams left in the tournament decreases, the better the quality of play becomes. You never want to put yourself in a hole early by giving up a soft goal, especially when we play in these later games.
SD: The senior class helped lead the team to the Final Four last year and is leading the team again this year to success. What makes them unique as a group?
MQ: Probably their ability to relate to everyone. They don’t separate themselves from everyone. They’re very in tune with everybody else, not just on the field but off the field. They’re also a very unselfish group of women with their energy as they play, and I think that’s a quality that’s really endearing and promotes a real respectful environment.
SD: Where do you think that comes from?
MQ: I think it’s about who they are combined with all the experiences they’ve had. In turn, the other thing about them is that they’re all very competitive.
SD: How does senior leadership help resonate throughout the rest of the team?
MQ: This team really enjoys playing for one another. We’ve had different people step up throughout the year; it’s not just our 11 starters, and they get all the glory. We’ve had people coming off the bench making a huge impact. We had Alex Liese coming off the bench on Saturday against UMass Boston, and she did a fine job. They’re an unselfish group, and they like to play hard for one another. They have a lot of fun at practice, and everyday they bring it and play well.
SD: I know you don’t want to look too far ahead, but is this the team to break through and get to the National Championship game where you just fell short of reaching last season?
MQ: We’re capable of it, but we’ve been playing with the one game at a time mentality, and right now the only talk is about Misericordia. Anything else like that is the concern of the coaching staff, and I don’t want them thinking about it. Our staff is scouting all three opponents, but when the time comes, our team will know what they need to know.