Written by Dylan Lynch '16
With the regular season schedule all mapped out, Ali Jones (AJ) and the women's soccer team have their sights set on making a run in the NCAA tournament as well as winning another Conference Championship. Jones, a rising junior, explains to us the importance of building team chemistry in the off season as well as some changes in the team's preparation moving into the season.
SCU: When did you first start playing soccer? Did you ever play any other sports?
AJ: I started playing soccer when I was 6 years old. I played a lot of other sports when I was in elementary school, like volleyball, basketball, softball and golf. I mostly did those with my elementary school, but I did basketball and soccer with club teams. When I started high school I decided to just stick with soccer and stop playing other sports.
SCU: What has your team's offseason training entailed?
AJ: Coming off of our fall season we lost a lot of seniors and key players. Because of this, we have been working hard to gain good team chemistry with our new team and get all of us to work seamlessly together on the field. Our team is really young, and we have a lot of talent we just need to work on coming together in our new roles. Also, we have a huge emphasis on building out of the back of our team this off-season, so we want to be confident with our defenders getting forward into the attack and holding the ball well for us.
SCU: How are you preparing differently this offseason compared to previous offseasons?
AJ: This is only my second off-season with the team, but I think that this one is definitely more intense and focused than last year's off-season. One major difference that I have noticed is our weight program. Our new strength and conditioning coach Daniel Hicker has helped our team become so much stronger and has developed a program that focuses on each player's strengths and weaknesses individually. I think it is really benefitting our program and it shows when we play on the field.
SCU: What are some of your goals for the upcoming season?
AJ: Besides doing a good job of integrating new players into our team, in our upcoming season it is a goal every year for our team to make it to the NCAA Tournament, so that will definitely be one of our goals next year. We not only want to make it to the tournament, but hope to go far in it, and also hope to win another Conference Championship. As a team we always hope to represent Santa Clara Athletics and University well, and have success in all of our games.
SCU: What in particular are you working on to personally improve your game?
AJ: Personally, I have been working on improving my long balls and passing. It is important as a player in the back line to be able to connect passes well and I am working on being able to connect these passes to my teammates cleanly.