Brandi Chastain does not even require an introduction. She took the time to answer a few questions about the NCAA Women’s Soccer College Cup, and the Capital One Cup, which she is a part of as a member of the Board of Advisors.
AH: First, were there any surprises, any teams people might not have expected to be in the Final Four?
BC: There’s always the unknowns in soccer. Stanford and Notre Dame are good teams. Stanford played a lot of games, and we (she coaches at Santa Clara) played against them, so I know how good they are. Ohio State may be seen as a surprise, but I know that they don’t see themselves that way. They probably believed they could make the Final Four just like any other team, and now they’re here.
AH: Talk to me about Stanford.
BC: We [Santa Clara] played them twice this season. We faced them in the playoffs and they are a quality team from top to bottom, not just in their starting 11. They have (Pac-10 Player of the Year) Christen Press, Teresa Noyola, Lindsay Taylor, and Camille Levin as big goal-scoring threats. The team is very dangerous, and good with team tactics and they play nice soccer. When we played them Christen Press didn’t score, and I don’t think she had many shots. It was a tough game for them, but they ended up winning 1-0. It was a tough one, but they are resilient.
AH: Can you talk about Boston College and their Final Four game against Stanford?
BC: Boston is in a tough conference being in the ACC. They get good games week in and week out with teams like North Carolina, Maryland and other who make the playoffs every year. They have (Gina) DiMartino who’s a good distributor of the ball. Boston will have to not get too excited and overwhelmed by the pressure of the game and the speed of Stanford. The first 10 minutes will be important for them. It’s going to be a good game.
AH: Now tell me about Notre Dame.
BC: Notre Dame has won two championships before and their coaching staff is like “seen it, done it.” They will need to know how to prepare, but the players played in some big games before so they should be ok. They shouldn’t get too excited in the beginning of the match against Ohio State who’s never been to the College Cup weekend.
AH: What can you say about Ohio State?
BC: They are going to the Final Four for the first time, so that’s exciting for them. My freshman year at Santa Clara, we made the Final Four. People ask me what my favorite part of the tournament is and I say it’s the banquet where you get to see the other three teams, so it’s exciting to be them. But they can’t be too excited, they’ll have to stick together and rely on each other throughout the tournament.
Lori Walker (head coach) and I worked together for NBC during the Olympics and we covered women’s soccer. She analyzed the teams well so I’m excited to see how she can analyze the other teams in the College Cup, and how well she can make tactical decisions. And she was also a collegiate player and she was successful, so I’m hoping she can use her experiences to help the players through this.
AH: Who do you think will win it all?
BC: Stanford had a great chance to win it since last year losing 1-0 to UNC. It was a close game. They lost some players like Kelley O’Hara who graduated, but they still have one goal-scoring threat in Christen Press, who didn’t have many chances against us. So maybe this could be the chance to showcase herself and others can watch her play, maybe even have a chance to play on the national team.
I also want to talk about the Capital One Cup. The College Cup is so significant for women athletes and team sports. Women’s soccer will be the first sport to represent points for the Capital One Cup, so I’m excited for this. Capital One will award one women’s program with $200,000 for post-grad education. I think it’s important that they know the importance of academics, especially for female athletes who don’t have the same opportunities as men do to play professionally after college. This is a wonderful opportunity for women’s soccer.
AH: Which players in the Final Four do you think can make a good impact on WPS?
BC: The transition from college to professional soccer isn’t easy, just like going from high school to college, but I think Christen Press, and I’ve mentioned her a lot, plays so effortlessly, and has great speed. I think she has great potential to do well in WPS. I think it’s great for sports fans to be able to finally watch her on ESPN on Friday, and I think she’ll get soccer fans excited, so it’ll be fun to watch.
AH: This one’s for fun. Who do you think will be the #1 draft pick in WPS?
BC: I’m so bad at this! I don’t want to pick just one, but everyone always says “Brandi why can’t you just pick?” I think Press… Who has the first pick?
AH: The Western New York Flash.
BC: Yeah, you can’t pass up a forward, so I think Press will go first.
AH: What about someone like Alex Morgan?
BC: Or her. I’m a big fan of Alex. I played with her for the California Storm, and she’s a great player. We’ll see.