Fullerton, Calif. – The Cal State Fullerton women's soccer team recently completed its 2014 spring season, and www.FullertonTitans.com, caught up with head coach Demian Brown to gain some insight into the team's preparation for the 2014 fall campaign.
The 2013 Big West Conference Tournament champions finished the spring schedule with a record of 5-2, scoring 14 goals with seven coming from junior-to-be Christina Burkenroad, while sophomore-to-be goalkeeper Jennifer Stuart allowed just three goals and posted five shutouts.
FullertonTitans.com: Entering the spring season, what were some of the areas you wanted to address, and how would you analyze that progress throughout the spring?
Demian Brown: Two major parts of our program that we really needed to improve on - first was individual players. We really wanted to spend time working on individual skills and performances, and much of the front part of our spring was based on individual development. As we got into the spring, the emphasis then fell on what we were doing in the attack and really working in the attacking third in regard to combination play, crossing and finishing, and developing a better and aggressive attitude in front of the goal as that was one of our biggest deficiencies in the fall.
FullertonTitans.com: The team finished the spring 5-2, scoring 14 goals, with Christina Burkenroad scoring seven of those goals. What was working for the offense?
Demian Brown: I think a lot of things that we did in our training sessions, including Christina's goals, came from really good play and things that we worked on right on the training field. We were able to finish a lot of crosses and produced a lot of individual moments of brilliance that I think were things that we really worked on at the start of spring, while developing the confidence to take people on one vs. one. Obviously the supporting cast helped as well with Adriana Gjonovich stepping into her role along with Lauren Stupin, two seniors, that we expect really good things from. It was really a good spring for us to see those types of goals being scored.
FullertonTitans.com: And on the flip side of that, your defense allowed just three goals recording five shutouts. Talk about your defensive performance and goalkeeper Jennifer Stuart.
Demian Brown: Obviously over the last couple of years our team defense has been one of our strong points. Losing goalkeeper Lindsey Maricic to graduation and having Jennifer Staurt step in, we really feel like we didn't miss a beat. Jen has been learning so much over the last two years watching Lindsey compete, and I think she is more than ready to step into that role. I think she had some great games in the spring, and obviously there is that learning transition, but we were hopeful to get a lot of that done in the spring so we can step into the fall extremely confident. Morgan Batcheller, Jazzmin Mancilla and Colleen Ortega are three returners from last year's group, and with the addition of TCU transfer Serena Smith-Banas, that has really rounded out our back four and given us solid play through the spring.
FullertonTitans.com: And who have you seen having their roles expanded or making significant improvement from 2013 to 2014?
Demian Brown: I think one of the things in regard to the program now is the culture of winning, which we have really worked hard over the last four to five years to get back to. Within that culture we have some student-athletes that are really thriving, but we lost Erica Mazeau, Lindsey Maricic and the group of seniors, which were so important to our program. Now we have the opportunity to have Rebecca Wilson back in shape and fit, Amanda Howard coming back off injury and the continued steady play of Chelsey Patterson, Morgan Batcheller, and Christina Burkenroad. With the experiences that group has had the last few years, we are hopeful that 2014 shows us a repeat of last season's success, but also presents an opportunity to win some of those games that last year we didn't. I think this year, we will be senior based again which is great for our program. We really look forward to our seniors stepping up - Gjonovich, Stupin, Patterson, Ortega - this group is leading the charge for how they want their senior year to end, which will be a really big motivating factor for the program.
FullertonTitans.com: For Titan fans that are unfamiliar, can you describe what the next few months are like for your program, from the last month of school, through August when the season begins.
Demian Brown: In June and July the student-athletes might play in outside competition or begin their own voluntary individual workouts. Starting in July, they have access to begin working with our tremendous strength and conditioning program and coaches, which gets them prepared for our August 5 start date.
FullertonTitans.com: Now we haven't released the schedule yet, but it's loaded with quality and high-profile opponents. Talk about your philosophy with arranging the 2014 schedule?
Demian Brown: We are excited about our schedule. The opportunity not just to play top-level teams, but to be able to play them in Titan Stadium is a tremendous opportunity for us. Starting with the first four matches at home against great competition – BYU, Michigan State, Denver and Georgia – obviously those are the types of matches we want to play and win, because we think those are the matches that will earn us the exposure nationally that we hope for. Those are also the games that prepare us for what is going to be another difficult and challenging Big West Conference season. We have a trip up to Oregon to play two Pac 12 schools in Oregon and Oregon State, as well as, playing Fresno State, LMU, Pepperdine and San Diego, which returns to our schedule after a little time off. We are hopeful that all of these games prepare us for our first conference match of the year at Hawai'i, and then the rest of the schedule, which will be very challenging.