The Men's College Cup finalists arrived in Cary Wednesday and talked to the media on Thursday.
Head Coach Jay Vidovich
"We're excited to be in Cary. We've been working on this since last year at St. Louis, and we're excited about an opportunity to play Virginia Tech tomorrow."
On the match against Virginia Tech earlier in the year:
"I think that both of us are different teams than we were then. What I'm expecting is a tremendous match. When we were at Blacksburg for the first game I think that it was a tale of two halves."
On what he expects of his team tomorrow:
"What you're going to see is 11 players on the field who are very committed to defending and getting the ball back. We like to attack, so our team works very, very hard to make sure that we have the ball."
On the experience of playing at the College Cup last season:
"We do think it helps, and it's good to have that experience under our belt having been here before and gone through these types of events, seeing the media and everything that comes along with the College Cup. We're hoping to use that experience in a positive way, and hopefully we'll be a little be more prepared this year and we'll make a good run at it."
On what the team learned from the experience of the College Cup last season:
"One thing that we learned is that it doesn't feel good to lose. We were watching UC Santa Barbara celebrate after our win and again on Sunday in the championship game. I think that most of us still remember that day, and it's kind of driven us through the summer and the spring to get back here."
On being ranked highly for the majority of the season:
"I think that we take the mentality that those rankings don't mean anything until the middle of December. So, while it's nice to say that we're one of the top teams in the country, it's really just used as a measuring stick, I guess, at that point throughout the season. It really doesn't matter until a couple of days before now."
Head Coach John Bluem
"We're very excited to be here. It's a great opportunity for our players to experience the highest level of collegiate soccer. They've been a super group over the years. They have been a group that has been very focused and determined and have been on a great run since the end of September"
On the experience of their first College Cup:
"The experience so far has been wonderful. Winning the game last Sunday against Bradley and knowing that we had made it to the College Cup was just in itself a great thing and the preparations began. We have had three very good days of great practice back in Columbus where the players have shown up and really wanted it. The newness of the event, the excitement of the event isn't going to matter when we take the field Friday night. It's going to be all about playing soccer."
On if they feel like the favorite and what they know about UMass:
"I don't feel like a favorite, to be honest with you. We've all reached here, we've all had difficult roads to get here. The University of Massachusetts has been spectacular on their path to the College Cup and are a team we respect very much."
On what their team does best:
"What we do best and what our players have grown to understand is we defend as a team. We have instilled in the players a strong feeling of doing our jobs defensively. You will see a well-organized team that is committed to getting a shutout and stopping the opposition's chances. At the same time we are a team that can hurt you on the attacking side of the game in a number of ways. We are dangerous on restarts and recently in the last game at Bradley we scored three goals from the run of play so we can get at you in a number of ways."
On their confidence level after eight goals in the past two games:
"It's going to obviously be a tough game. It's a final four game. Our confidence level is way up after beating the defending national champion is UCSB. We know its going to be a tough game, we know we will get chances as we have in previous NCAA games, but we know it's going to be a hard defensive battle."
On the play of goalkeeper Casey Latchem:
"Casey's been fantastic all season long for us. In the Big Ten tournament he really displayed that. He made some big saves that single-handedly won the game for us. He's been solid this entire season. He's a great goalkeeper and has come up with some big saves this season."
Head Coach Sam Koch
"It's been a fantastic season and we're excited to be here. People have treated us extremely well so far. The facilities are fantastic. We're just very happy to be able to keep playing, and we're extremely happy with the support we have been getting from our school, our fans, in the last couple of games to make sure we're here. Playing in the ice the last couple of games was something we were alright with, but we certainly enjoyed practicing on a field that is not frozen."
On how satisfied he is for the team to keep going:
"We're pretty satisfied that we're one of four teams practicing right now, but we feel we have a job to do on Friday. We're not here just to be here, we're here to keep playing. We've been talking about it all season about how we want to practice next week, we want to practice the next day, and this group really enjoys going out to training and being with each other. We're not here for one game, we're here for two."
On what the team ideally looks like while playing:
"We want to play a simple game, safe in the back, a few combinations in the midfield, and attack in the final third in a way that fits the game, whether it's balls being crossed in or combinations at the top of the 18-yard box. It all depends on what we feel our strengths are going against their weaknesses. We've been able to do that on a good field. It's been different in different games depending on the opponent, and we've been growing as a team as the season's gone on. I feel our front-runners now are more comfortable with each other and they're able to combine better together, and they combine with our midfield a little bit better. We see what the other team gives us and we take it."
On the feeling of being at the College Cup:
"I think it's a lot of excitement, kind of shock. I don't think anyone realized how big it was until we walked into the stadium and saw the field and everything. It was a lot of excitement."
On what the team has done to get to the College Cup:
"I think we've just come together as a team. We've built character and we've really built on the success that we've had, especially in the A-10, with conference play and the tournament. We came together in our time in Dayton, where we won the A-10 championship. I think we've built on that and just carried that momentum and the quality of play that we brought there on to the tournament. It's taken us pretty far and we hoping to keep it going tomorrow."
On the team's style of play:
"I think our style of play we have doesn't go in one direction or the other, I think it's more conducive to playing more direct. Sometimes its not what you would hope. The more passes you have, the more chance you have of screwing up. The field's absolutely beautiful out there, we can't wait to get on it."
On mixing up the way the team plays:
"We do play direct at times because it's what's been working for us, finding our striker's feet in the back and running the play after that first pass. But we can definitely mix it up."
Head Coach Oliver Weiss
"Obviously we're thrilled to be here. It's our first College Cup and we're looking forward to the games. Obviously, congrats to the other three College Cup participants, especially Wake Forest for doing it two years in a row, which is, as everybody knows, it's a hard thing to get here."
On taking on Wake Forest again:
"We're excited to be playing our conference rivals again. It should be a very exciting match based on the history between the two teams, and I'm sure that all of our student-athletes are looking forward to 5 p.m. tomorrow."
On how the team has improved since playing Wake Forest earlier in the year:
"We were excited to play them. I think we found out in that game that we had something special. We were behind twice by two goals, 2-0 and 3-1, and we came back and tied. That helped our team with motivation and also with confidence."
On the style of the team:
"To characterize our team, I think we're a diverse group of individuals from all over the country and all over the world, and that's how we play. We don't just have one style of play. If the game strategy calls for 'let's go get them' then we're going to push up and press. We're very unique and very diverse, and that's basically what you'll see on the field."
On how the program has improved through the years:
"Our think our players have just matured, taken more responsibility on their own. We've become a very tight-knit group this year, more so than in years past."
On Wake Forest:
"Especially on the attacking end, they put up a lot of goals this year. They had three against us last time. They're really dynamic as far as their midfielders and forwards moving forward and making a lot of runs. In the back, they're solid as well, so I think it's their overall team chemistry."
On the progression of the program:
"We have always sought to improve over the last few years. This team, its passion, we feel like we have what it takes to win as long as we play hard and together."