UK Men's Soccer Head Coach Ian Collins Press Conference
November 20, 2000
UK vs. SMU Nov. 25, 2000
On the Saint Louis game
"One thing I said last week was that we would defend well, and we did that. We defended really, really well. Saint Louis is a great team with great individual players. The whole story was that we were playing tradition, and our players did a great job dealing with that. It was a wonderful game, though from the stands, I guess it was kind of nerve wracking. Our kids did a great job. It was ironic that the first ball that went into the net was from our goalkeeper. Both teams missed the first kicks, and then Brian O'Leary, our goalkeeper, hit our first penalty kick."
On Southern Methodist, the Cats' next opponent
"SMU is seeded No. 6 in the tournament. They are the nation's highest scoring team. It's going to be a real battle. I hope our kids can stay focused and not get too excited about making this progress. For our team, this is a huge step. Last year we lost in sudden-death overtime, and when we went into overtime on Saturday, that thought did go through my head. I really didn't want to repeat that. I am glad we advanced to the round of 16, and I hope we can go out there and just do our best and play really hard."
On any changes that might be made to keep the players down to earth
"I won't have have any problems keeping them down to earth. It definitely is uncharted territory. We have spent all morning trying to make travel plans and trying to figure out what is going on. It's all a little bit different, but it's just another game, even though it's a huge game. It's 90 minutes between two teams, and if we focus and concentrate hard we will be okay. We'll try not to change anything at all and just let the players know that it's just another game."
On SMU's reliance on offense and UK's on defense
"They've scored 76 goals and we've only scored 24 goals. That 50-goal differential may be a factor, but, at the same time, we have yet to give away a goal in post-season play, three conference games and one NCAA game, plus another 60 minutes of overtime. Like I said last week, if we defend well, we will have a chance in the game. We cannot give up two or three goals this week and win the game, unless Superman flies in between now and Friday, puts on a uniform and plays up front. I am not banking on that, though."
On how advancing in the tournament will affect the program and recruiting
"It's big because we are still building the program. Beating No. 2 Indiana four or five years ago was a major step. Winning the conference championship was a major step, as was winning an NCAA Tournament match. I think we just need to go out there and keep doing it, doing it, and doing it. People look at our record and say, 'Well, you're 11-8-2,' but that doesn't really bother me. Our schedule and our sport are set up so that if you win the conference, you go (to the NCAA Tournament). There are only 14 at-large bids in our sport, so it's very, very difficult. They only take 32 teams. It's almost impossible to get an at-large bid. We concentrate on winning our conference tournament, and we set up that schedule to help us. We played seven freshmen on Saturday (against Saint Louis). It was good, and I was very proud of the effort they showed."