Utah Royals

URFC Quote Sheet: March 31

Ally Sentnor

Q: How do you decide when to take that shot (for the goal) and when not to?

A: I think it’s just my mind is in game mode and it’s kinda just instinct. I just want to try to put the ball in the back of the net for the team and when I see space I usually try to take it and I really like shooting outside the box.

Q: What was the mindset to try and mount the comeback in the second half?

A: I think at half time we knew we weren’t out of this game. Going into this season, we knew we wanted to try and be the toughest team in the League and the toughest team to play against. Even when we're down, like we are not out of this game, and I believe that we had plenty of chances to come back into this game and get a point out of it. So just gotta clean up a few things. But we just want to be a relentless, ruthless team. And I think we showed that today.

Q: What was your first road experience like?

A: Obviously, we love our fans at home, and they really bring a lot of energy and love into the game, so that's always amazing to play in front of. But I think our goal going into the rest of the season is going to be to get points on the road because those are the hardest points to get. I think it's just having a mindset where we're always locked in and we're just putting absolutely everything onto the field to try to sneak back a couple of road points. I think it's gonna be really critical this season.

Q: Is it harder to maintain that relentless mindset or ability to implement when the game flow is interrupted like it was today?

A: I think it is part of the game. Unfortunately, there's going to be VR stops. There's going to be calls that don't go our way. But I think it's rallying around each other and just communicating through it. And I think over communication is going to be big for our team. But just knowing that the game isn't going to be perfect every time, and we are going to make bad passes, we're going to have bad calls, but I think, just turning that around and trying to make an advantage for us is gonna be key.

Q: Is added time something that has been taken into consideration in training?

A: Yeah, we're definitely taking that into consideration. I would say our team was really still pushing towards the end of the game. And I think you could tell that we were very fit and still able to run a ton. So I think that's going to be an advantage to us throughout the season, really proud of the work that the girls put in every single day to get fitter to get those little wins at the end of the game when the other team’s tired. So I think that's something that we can take advantage of, and something that is a strength of our team.

Q: Were you surprised when you saw how much added time there was?

A; Honestly, I was kind of excited because I felt like that just gave us more opportunity to try to get back into the game. I knew there was going to be a lot of minutes with that really long VAR call. So we were kind of standing around for a while, so honestly, I was excited when that came up on the board, and any any minutes on the clock when you're down in important minutes

Amy Rodriguez

Q: What was going through your mind when the PK in the first half was called?

A: I never have any doubt that this team will come back from anything, especially after having 2 PKs back to back the other weekend. I wasn't necessarily worried about Mandy facing another PK again. I actually thought Mandy's been in great form in her PKs, and thought, maybe there's a chance of saving it. But yeah, going down against the home team is never fun. You gotta dig yourself out of that hole. I knew it was going to be difficult. I wish my team would have started digging a little earlier on in the game. We definitely dug ourselves partly out. But it was much too late, in that second half when we really started to get in the flow of things and create chances. But overall, I'm so proud of the group we still came out here and put in a good shift. Just wasn't enough today.

Q: How were you able to address the road element to today’s game?

A: I was very interested to see how our team would handle the road element. I've never seen this team on the road before. I told the team before the game started like this is where we set our identity for who we are on the road. I don't like the result that we got. So I'm going to wash this one away. And in our next road trip, which I believe is Louisville upcoming in a couple of weeks, we will try again. We reestablish who we are and what kind of team we're going to be out on the road. And hopefully, it's one  that doesn't shy back down from tough play and from quality soccer. I think we showed that tonight, where we still tried to build out, tried to be brave. I didn't think that the environment was too hostile. Maybe it was because it was Easter, maybe the Washington DC fans were nice to us today. I know that some environments in the NWSL are really difficult to play in, and so to get our feet wet with this game was alright. I'm so proud of the players, and it's still a good foundation for us to build off of.

Q: Ally got another goal today, how have you been coaching her to balance shooting and passing in those situations?

A: Yeah, it was pretty crowded today in the midfield for us. We didn't get a lot of opportunities through midfield. We actually set her in the 10 to try to break some of that up. Ally Sentnor If you give her half a yard, half a step in the box, or even outside the box, her shot is so lethal and even with a deflection, the ball still went in because it's powerful, and it creates havoc. When you're shooting through defenders too, the goalkeeper doesn't have a great eyesight of the ball, and she was able to see that through, and I'm thankful for the goal. But on the day, it just wasn't enough.

Q: You talked about getting the flow of the game, but this was a game that was disrupted by various VAR calls. So, what was the communication between you, the team, your staff, and the referees about having such big interruptions. 

A: Yeah, the referee stoppages, the VAR reviews, the time where the ball like was out of play, I think that only fought against us on the day. We had a lot of momentum at points, and then, when we had continuous fouls, reviews, and stopages, I just think that kind of broke us out of our rhythm a bit. We're a team that likes the ball and wants to dominate, but every time we had to stop that kind of got broken up, and I just kept telling my team to stay  in it. I thought we were the better team on the night, but that doesn't always get you the result, and unfortunately we walk away from here without any points. We’ll  pick ourselves up though, the group is really positive and we know that this is a long term project where we're building towards an identity. When you've got referees, calls and stopages out of your hands, there's nothing much to do besides, put your head down and keep working.

Q: When stoppages get long enough, is there any concern about players cooling off too much? Also if extra time is running so long, is there any concern at all about having not necessarily trained for it, or do you train for it because you expect anything in this league?

A: So in our preseason we periodize our physical loading to accommodate for 55 min halves because we realize that there is so much time allotted nowadays. I think our first half had 13 min of extra time. I've never seen that before. We try to estimate about 10 min, never would have thought 13. Then at the end of the game, when we needed more time on the clock, they only gave us eight So in some ways extra time can be useful and helpful, but then in other times it drags out the game, and you really have to train the players for that physical load and physical demand cause no longer are our games 90 minutes

Q: Both of your players that we talked to touched on this, and so I wanted to get your response. Are you happy with the way this team is somewhat playing the long game and matches in a lot of ways, because it does feel like they do get better as the match goes on. Are you happy with that?

A: I appreciate you saying that. I think my team is completely in this for the long haul. We’re trying to build an identity. We're trying to change the landscape of the NWSL. I'm not a huge fan of transitional play, but I understand that's a big element of the NWSL, but we're trying to play beautiful soccer. We’re trying to build through the thirds, and I'm gonna continue pushing my team to grind out these games where we try to keep possession against a high press opponent. We try to high press our opponents and win the ball back as soon as possible. I can't speak more proudly of the work that's been put in to get us to this point. I don't think that for a for a new team being 7-8 weeks in people would have predicted the quality of play that we're starting to show, but I know we're still only scratching the surface, and we got a long ways to go but again, I'm proud of the group, and I love the the fight. I love the grit of this group, that’s gonna get us far this season, and I'm gonna work just as hard as they are to ensure that we keep getting better each weekend.

Olivia Griffitts

Q: What was the mindset trying to come back after the penalty?

A: Obviously, that was very frustrating, not how I wanted to start, but I think we bounced back and realized we have the whole game to come back and we showed our grit and how we can come back after going down a goal.

Q: How was the first road experience for you? How was it different from being at home?

A: It did feel different. I haven’t played at home yet and so I’m looking forward to that, but it was still so fun to step out on the pitch and to be able to play for the first time. 

Q: What have you seen from Ally Sentnor early on in her career?

A: Ally is a baller and we’re really good friends and so it’s really fun to be able to see her shine and to be able to see her show off what she can do. I don’t like defending her at practice so I’m glad when I don’t have to. 

Q: How did the team deal with stoppages and the added time?

A: It can be frustrating, especially in the second half, I feel like we had a lot of the momentum and that kinda took it away. You can also look at it as a positive where it’s a time that we can catch our breath and regroup, talk about what’s working and what’s not, and I think we used that to our advantage to settle down, catch our breath and to be able to talk it out as a team.

Q: Was there anyone on the team that was trying to facilitate that?

A: Mandy and Kate do a really good job of that, helping us to get hyped and to realize how much time we have left and reiterating what is working and to keep doing that.

Q: How has the team prepared for the large amounts of added time that are becoming more common? Was the added time a surprise?

A: I think we expected that and obviously watching other games, we’ve seen how much extra time there can be and so I think we were ready for that and expected it.

Q: What is about this team that allows them to keep fighting deep into the second half?

A: I feel like it’s something that Amy has instilled in us ever since we got here. On the first day, she wanted us to be the fittest, toughest NWSL team in the league. I think just having that as a mindset really helps us be able to do that on the field.

Q: What was it about the last 20 minutes that really brought the team back into it?

A: Obviously fresh legs always help. It was so fun to be able to play with Brecken again. We know how each other plays. We know each other’s tendencies and so I felt like we worked really well with each other off the ball. We played with each other for five years so it was super fun to be able to do that at the next level.