Washington State University received an at-large bid to the 2013 NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship, the NCAA announced, Monday.
The Cougars will participate in their third-straight postseason, a first for the program, and their fifth NCAA Championship in the last-six years.
It will mark the second time in as many years that Head Coach Keidane McAlpine has led the Cougars to the NCAA Championship. The second-year Cougar head coach was featured in the 2013 Fall edition of Washington State Magazine. Coach McAlpine was interviewed at his Bohler Athletic Complex office during the spring for the story. Below are excerpts from the interview that were not used in the story or expands on topics discussed in the magazine feature.
The Cougars (14-3-3, 7-3-1 Pac-12) will host Illinois (10-8-2, 5-5-1 Big Ten) in the first round, Saturday, Nov. 16 at 1 p.m. Tickets are on sale at WSUCougars.com. Prices are $7 (adults), $3 (students, youth 3-18, seniors 65 and over). The first 500 students will be admitted free. Tickets are also available at Lower Soccer Field (cash or check only) beginning at 11:30 a.m., Saturday.
What are your thoughts on recruiting in the Northwest?
“There’s a lot of quality talent here in the state of Washington. It can be found all over the country. There’s a lot of talent for a lot of levels and there is a lot of competition for the talent. Coming in, we felt it was important to re-establish ourselves in the state and make sure we were diligent in recruiting local talent and in-state talent, and from there branching out into our Pac-12 market. That’s the first order of business. If we are able to branch out further than that’s what we ultimately would like to do. I think the keys for us is to continue to get quality character people and continue to recruit the types of players who continue to grow and learn in what we're trying to do."
Does the professional soccer presence in the Northwest help in your recruiting?
"If you look at the Pacific Northwest line from Vancouver, Canada with the Whitecaps to the (Seattle) Sounders and down to the (Portland) Timbers you got a lot great passionate fan bases. I think that bodes well for the types of players you produce, too, because they have good games to see and good players to watch. I think there is a great fan base for the game."
What is your preferred style of play?
"I’ve always been a believer that the more you have the ball and the more opportunities you can create the better chances you have of winning the game. We’re a little bit more up-tempo and we attack teams a little bit more. Yes, it leaves us a bit vulnerable at times, but we feel confident that we’ll win a few more games than lose with that style."
How did you develop the attacking philosophy?
"It's the way I grew up more than anything else. I grew up as an attacker and have always been an attacking-minded person. As a youth player I played an attacking style. Collegiately, I probably played a little bit slower of a style but even then I still had a forward-thinking mentality."
Have you found that an up-tempo style is one that fans enjoy watching?
"I think the fan base can get into the games a bit more. I think it’s far easier to follow an up-tempo team. As long as they're shooting a ball on goal it’s a good thing. I think that’s easier for fans to grab a hold of. We want to play a style our fan base can be proud of and be excited to watch. A style that has good attacking flow and movement, and a stingy defense that will show creativity and excitement."
The program has been to the NCAA Tournament and has advanced to the second round three times in program history. What will it take to advance further?
"We’re definitely a program that’s established but can it go another level? Yes. That’s where the challenge is. We always talk to players about how easy it is to take the big step but sometimes the small steps are the hard ones. We’re in that phase where it’s the hard part.
"This is the part where one game in the middle of the season can determine whether or not you’re going to be in a position to get the draw you want to make the Sweet 16 to make the Elite 8. Every game becomes important. That’s the hardest part of our collegiate season that maybe people don’t realize. Like football you lose a game and your national championship hopes are on the ropes. For us it’s very similar. Every game is important in our season. To get that focus from day one and not drop a game early is key."
Is having the opportunity to take the program to unprecedented heights a message you deliver to recruits?
"For me, the biggest thing is with every player that we recruit we tell them the goal is to find people who want to be the first at something. To be the first to make the Sweet 16, the first to make the Elite Eight, the first to make the Final Four, the first to win a championship, the first to do it again. We’re constantly trying to find people that can buy into that part of this program and I think we’re well on our way to doing that.”
What is at the forefront for you in regards to facilities for Cougar Soccer?
"From a facilities standpoint, Bill (Moos) has been very forward-thinking in his approach. Facilities allow you a better opportunity to win championships. With our facility the next step and the most important things are the lights and redoing the surface, which allows you to play a consistent style regardless of the weather. With the lights, it allows our fan base an opportunity to come and enjoy some night games, which will increase the numbers we have at games. By increasing those numbers it makes it and even harder place to play."
Entering your second season as head coach, is there anything about WSU and Pullman that surprised you?
"I love the summers, the summers are fantastic (laughing). It’s not necessarily finding out anything new, it's the things I appreciated as an outsider looking in that I found was bigger and better. Academically, it’s a great institution and the fan base, the college-town community, the safe community, those were all things that were important to me."