June 17, 2011

Matador Minute with Juan Plascencia

June 17, 2011

Cal State Northridge women's soccer assistant coach Juan Plascencia recently sat down with the media relations staff to talk about the upcoming 2011 season.

In his eighth year with the program, Plascencia and the Matadors have had ample success in their past two years and set numerous program firsts in the process. The team tied a program record with 12 wins in 2010 and has qualified for the Big West Tournament the past two seasons.

However, the program first that all at Northridge crave is that first trip to the NCAA Tournament. With a roster featuring 21 returning letterwinners, including four All-Big West selections, and an influx of new talent, the Matadors hope to accomplish that feat in 2011.

Northridge will play a total of 19 matches in the upcoming campaign with 10 fixtures slated at Matador Soccer Field. Included among those venturing into the San Fernando Valley are a litany of tournament regulars including UCLA, New Mexico, San Diego and Portland. Over the past four seasons, Northridge is 24-10-3 at home.

Q: What can we expect from the group of forwards on the team?
A: "Although it is hard to replace the scoring we've lost from last year, it is exciting to see who is going to step up into that role. It could come from one player, two or from an entire group. We have a lot of talented players who possess good attributes that should compliment each other and the system well."

Q: How about expectations in midfield?
A: "I think this group should be well prepared to accepting larger roles and more responsibility within the team system. Our depth in the middle of the pitch is very good. We have an idea of what the returning players bring. We have an idea of what the newcomers bring. It's just about how they adapt with each other and within the system."

Q: Why is the perennial strength of this team the defense?
A: "Defense is something we pride ourselves on at Northridge. We don't want to give up soft goals and we play with an aggressive mentality to preserve the team shutout. All of our returning players have ample experience and we also have several newcomers who should strengthen the unit. I expect our defense to only get stronger as the year progresses."

Q: As the team's goalkeeper coach, what do you see out of that unit?
A: "Cynthia Jacobo and Haley Hawes lead by example and set a good tone for the rest of the club. I think Cynthia is just starting to scratch the surface as far as establishing herself as a top keeper in Division I. Still, she is very humble and just loves to play. As a coach, you can't ask for anything more than that."

Q: Can you talk about the schedule of games the Matadors face in 2011?
A: "We want to take this program to a new level. It seems like we're accomplishing new achievements every year and this year is no different. We believe it's a privilege to face a schedule like this because all the coaches, players and staff associated with the program want to reach a new level and there is no better way to prepare than by playing some of the nation's best."

Q: With a year to reflect, how have the lights at Matador Soccer Field affected the program?
A: "They've been an incredible addition to our school. The community and the team like playing under the lights. That is reflected in both our attendance and record at home. I think it has opened the program to a new, larger audience."

Q: What's been the response to the team's Facebook page?
A: "It's been great to reconnect with a lot of the former players at Northridge. We're getting good feedback and hope to eventually reach every Matador who played at the school."

Q: With Barcelona's victory over Manchester United in the Champions League Final, how do you see the state of European football entering the 2011-12 season?
A: "Everyone has their ups and downs. Barcelona is certainly playing some wonderful soccer right now, but I don't think it will be too long before Real Madrid is back atop La Liga. And despite the result, I believe Manchester United and Real Madrid represent the two top clubs of the past 25 years. That is everyone's dream final."

"However right now I am more focused on the Gold Cup and the Mexican National Team. Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and the rest of the side are playing at a new level right now."

Q: Who's the best goalkeeper in the world?
A: "That's hard to say and is certainly up for debate. Iker Casillas is an outstanding technical goalkeeper. Edwin Van Der Sar is one of the all-time greats and Petr Cech is very consistent as well. I also like Tim Howard a lot. It's tough to say."

The Matadors open the 2011 season with a home match against UCLA on August 19 at 7 p.m.

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