Nov. 12, 2001
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Senior Anthony Chimienti has been a fixture up front for head coach Mitch Murray over the last four seasons. He has led the team in scoring in each of his first three seasons, including team-highs with six goals and four assists during his junior year. His sophomore year he registered career-highs in goals with nine, and assists with five during the Broncos run into the National Championship game.
He has twice earned All-West Coast Conference honors in addition to being named MVP of the Clemson Invitational during his sophomore year, and the Santa Clara Classic during his sophomore and junior campaigns.
This year has been a little different though as the San Jose native has battled back from mid-season surgery for his last few games as a Bronco. In his first game back from surgery he picked up right where he left off, assisting on Keith Burden's game-winning goal against Sacramento State on October 30. In the Broncos' last game against Saint Mary's, his third game back from surgery, Chimienti headed home his second goal of the year to lift Santa Clara to a 1-0 victory and keeping their hope of a WCC Title and a NCAA Tournament berth still alive.
Just before practice late last week, he took some time out to answer a variety of questions, including his thoughts on the team's chances of making the NCAA Tournament.
Q: What has your soccer experience been like at Santa Clara?
A: "The first year or two is spent adjusting to the new system, and you spend the time learning from the older guys. The last couple of years you are expected to pass along the things that you were taught the years leading up to that. So between the sophomore and junior years it is a huge transition where your turn from a follower to a leader, which has been the coolest thing about it."
Q: So are the new Broncos taking to the system that you and the others are passing along to them?
A: "They have. At first you could tell in the tryouts that they were a little timid, not knowing what to expect. But just as the year has progressed they have matured a great deal."
Q: How is the team reacting to the must-win situations you guys have been in recently?
A: "I think that we are coming together as a team. We realize the importance of these last few games. It is make or break time for us, we know that. So right now we are just holding on tight to one another and enjoying the ride."
Q: What has it been like for you personally coming back from knee surgery?
A: "That's the hardest part about it. We weren't really having a good season to begin with, so your mindset is a little down anyways and then to have surgery put me in a little rut. Now since I have come back, it has been a confidence thing. The first week I noticed and my coaches noticed that I was a little timid. I was worried about the knee, and basically it is just a mind game you play with yourself. But going out there the last few weeks I have felt pretty confident and it has shown a little more on the field."
Q: With three games left, what is the outlook like?
A: "San Jose State is a big game and we want to win it, but we realize that our last two conference games (Saint Mary's and Loyola Marymount) are the ones that really matter in our eyes. So we are going to take it one game at a time and hopefully go into these places that are hard places to play at and hopefully take it to both of them."
Q: If you do make it into the playoffs, what kind of damage do you think you guys can do?
A: "That's the thing. We've always struggled somewhat to get to the playoffs, but we seem to play well once we get in. Coach always talks about peaking at the right time, and it seems like when we get into the playoffs that anything can happen. Hopefully that can be the situation again this year."
Q: How big of an influence has the coaching staff here been on your game over the last four years?
A: "They not only push you to do the things that you do well, but they help you with the situations and the areas of your game that need improvement. They keep pushing and pushing until you get it right, and eventually you do it correctly."
Q: What has been the best soccer memory of your life?
A: "(Without hesitation)Freshman year at St. John's. We're huge underdogs and we are going into a totally random and strange place, just happy to be in the quarterfinals. I was lucky enough to score the game-winning goal on a free kick and it takes us to the final four. That is the greatest feeling I have ever had on a soccer field in my life."
Q: What has the overall Santa Clara experience been like?
A: "It has been unbelievable. From soccer to school you seem to learn one new thing everyday. You develop into a person you never thought you would be, maturing so quickly that it takes you a little by surprise."
Q: Being a local kid from San Jose, what's it been like playing college soccer so close to home?
A: "That was a huge plus on why I even came here. It's the nicest thing to go out and play in front of them, even if you have the worst game of your career you still have some fans that are always there to support you. It is very comforting."