Sept. 25, 2003
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - With the men's soccer season in full stride, sophomore forward Kelechi Igwe sat down for a few minutes with Sports Editor Brian Betz. Kelechi has been an integral part of the team's 6-1-2 start, netting two goals and adding three assists to his credit. His 6-foot, 195 pound frame has made him a force against opposing defenses, especially in the possession game. The two discussed everything from this year's success thus far, his individual performance, the team dynamics and his new house.
BB: From unranked to 6-1-2 and ranked near the top 10. What's been the most influential factor for the hot start?
KI: It's been the closeness of the team. It's a privilege to be on the team right now. Last year we were a lot younger and didn't know what it took to win all these games and make it to the national championship. This year we've just come out with a different mentality.
BB: What mentality is that?
KI: We started the year out over in England, then came back here and started winning. And once you're in that kind of mode you just keep on going.
BB: Yeah I'd say so. Just three goals against in nine matches. Are there things that the team's done differently this year that you didn't do last year?
KI: Not necessarily. We just have more confidence now.
BB: Because you're older?
KI: Yeah, we know what it takes. Last year we had a couple rough games and didn't really know how to pick ourselves up.
BB: With 2 goals and 3 assists so far personally, grade your individual performance for me thus far.
KI: I'd give myself a B. I know I can play a lot better, but we're only at the beginning of the season and if I was playing my best right now it wouldn't be that good. But I'm starting to feel a lot better on the ball.
BB: Which conference games are going to be pivotal if you aspire to make the NCAA Tournament and hopefully go deep?
KI: All of them. But the main ones are going to be the teams we lost to last year. Portland and Gonzaga will be big. Outside of conference, Stanford definitely.
BB: I remember talking to you at the end of last year and you said that you'd need to win out the last few games for a chance at a bid into the tourney. Obviously you were snubbed, and unjustly I thought. Has that been a motivating factor for you guys?
KI: We don't talk about it but you know it's in the back of everyone's heads. We had a couple meetings and just said 'you know, think of how you felt watching the selection show and not making it.'
BB: What would you say is the strongest part of your game?
KI: What I try and do a lot is movement off the ball. As a forward you have to be mobile and be able to find the spaces. So I've felt more comfortable making runs.
BB: OK, be honest, what's the weakest part of your game?
KI: I'd have to say quickness. People might argue and say I'm quick but I think I could be a lot quicker.
BB: You know I played premier-1 ball as a center midfielder up in Washington for seven years. Where would I stack up if I came out there?
BB: Alright, well tell them an out-of-shape writer might be hitting the field next year.
KI: Ha, ha.
BB: Moving on, how's the house treating you? It's looked like "Trading Spaces" over there all summer with people doing work on it.
KI: It's a lot of fun. There's eight soccer guys over there. It's cool 'cause we go play soccer and then [we] all are able to come back and hang out at the house.