September 22, 2011

10 Years Later: Remembering The 2001 Santa Clara Women's Soccer National Championship with Danielle Slaton

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Tied for first on the Santa Clara women's soccer postseason career assists leader board, Danielle Slaton (DS) entered her senior season in 2001 with something bigger than personal achievements on her mind. She wanted to do what no Bronco women's soccer team before her had done: win the College Cup.

Santa Clara had reached the semifinals twice in Slaton's career but were unable to get over the hump. In 2001, however, things were different and Santa Clara topped North Carolina 1-0 in the title game. Ten years later SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCB) caught up with Slaton to talk about what she has been up to since Santa Clara and her memories of that 2001 team.

SCB: What have you been up to recently?
DS: I live in Chicago and I work for Kaplan Higher Education. 

SCB: Are you still involved in soccer?
DS: I am only involved in soccer a little bit, though I do miss it. I sit on the Athlete Council for U.S. Soccer and as often as possible I travel on behalf of U.S. Soccer. 

SCB: What is your fondest memory of your experience with the national championship team?
DS: One of my best memories of winning that national championship was beating Florida in the semifinal game. The semis were such a huge hurdle for us – one that we hadn't been able to overcome in previous years. I remember Veronica Zepeda scoring the winning goal for us in overtime, after Florida scored two goals to tie the game at 2-2. 

SCB: What do you think was so special about that group?
DS: I think everything seemed to come together at the right time. We had good leadership and experience. We had a number of younger/transfer players who were wiling to buy into our goals, mission and culture right away. 

SCB: How would you describe the team chemistry on that 2001 team?
DS: I thought it was great. We worked at it pretty hard. I remember staying at the dorms during preseason in Campisi Hall, getting to know the freshmen and younger players early on during the season. We worked hard to make them feel welcome and down the road it paid off. I knew I could count on them to do the right thing and give it their all. And I like to think that they knew how much they were valued and could count on us as upperclassmen. 

SCB: Specifically, what did this team do well?
DS: We were tougher than we had been in years before. We played good soccer, but we had an edge to us and played like we had a chip on our shoulders. I really credit players like Taline, Leslie Osborne and Kerry Cathcart. I remember watching them and really valuing what they brought in terms of competitiveness and toughness. I think that's what helped to reach a level we hadn't in previous years. 

SCB: How would you describe the moment that the timer ended and you were a national champion?
DS: I was happy and proud and excited, but I also must admit I was a little bit relieved.  I remember thinking, "thank God we finally did it." It was something we'd wanted for a long time and since it was my senior year, it was a fantastic way to end my college career.  

SCB: What characteristic of yours do you feel most contributed to helping the team win?
DS: I helped to lead this team well and set a standard that I expected everyone else to raise up to. 

SCB: What do you miss most about playing for Santa Clara?
DS: I miss the times we spent working together, having fun together and working towards something we knew would pay off.  We played good soccer and I know we put on a good show. I miss the cool, crisp fall nights at Buck Shaw.