Michelle Maemone, a
sophomore defender, tells us about the emotions of winning a WCC championship,
and what it will take to advance through the NCAA Tournament. The Waves host
California on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Q: You just won Pepperdine's first WCC championship in five years. What kind of thoughts and emotions are running through your head?
A: Just a lot of pride in our team. I am so proud of each and every one of these girls. Everyone was so vital to the conference championship. I am also so excited to see how far this team goes. From where we were last year to where we are now is an amazing transformation, and I am really excited to see what we have left in us and what we have yet to accomplish.
Q: In the entire stretch of conference games, you only allowed two goals. What made your defense so successful during conference play?
A: Honestly, while our
defense was strong, it was really the way we pressured as a unit throughout the
field, so as a team that made our job as defenders that much easier. So I
wouldn't say that it was just the back line, but it was everybody on the field
stepping up and being smart with the way that they were playing. A huge part of
that was our team's ability to defend back, with our outside wingers working
back and our midfielders working throughout the field. Then, of course, we have
Hannah back in goal, which is amazing. She made some absolutely incredible
saves. Without her, we wouldn't have had as many shutouts as we did.
Q: Now that you have won the WCC, your first game is this Saturday at home. Hosting a postseason game is a pretty big deal. How proud of this team are you?
A: I am really proud of
this team. And honestly, that doesn't do justice to the pride I have to be a
part of this team. It is crazy to see how we have grown from last year and to
see where we are now. We are in a completely different position mentally. Our
mentality is so much stronger. And we have definitely gone through a lot to
gain that mental strength, but it was all totally worth it. We look back on the
spring practices, and they were really tough, but we would all say that we
would do it all over again if it meant winning the WCC and going to the
Q: What makes this team, in particular, so special?A: I think the camaraderie for sure. Everybody is so close to one another that we feel like best friends and sisters. Everybody has each other's backs. I think that translates onto the field in such an important way. Knowing that you have people who care about you playing alongside you, playing with your best friends, makes us want to fight that much harder, because of how much we care about each other.
Q: As you get ready for the postseason, what, if anything, is different about preparations?
A: Our coaches are really good about sticking to routine. They don't really want to change it up on us because we have had this kind of system of the way we do things throughout the preseason and into the season. They want to keep it the same as much as possible. We are preparing to play a different opponent, so we will work on specific things, like defending their style of play and how we will attack their defense.
Q: Obviously everybody wants to win every game and become national champions, but what are the steps to get there with this team?
A: Our theme right now is "One Shining Moment." For each chunk of the season, we have had a specific theme. I think for us, being fully invested in where we are right now is so important. Focusing on one game at a time and not looking ahead is key. However, we also realize that if we don't win, this is the last game that we play. So we go out there for our seniors. We go out there wanting to keep winning and hopefully make it to a national championship.
Q: Do you think that this team could be the team to go all the way for Pepperdine? Why?
A: Absolutely. Our coach always says that any team can beat us, but we can also beat any team. I think that if we play the way that we know we can play, we can beat any team in the nation. I think that all of us feel very confident in that. Our coaches have so much faith in us, and I think that pushes us to want to play our hearts out and represent Pepperdine as best we can.