"It's just going to be a great weekend because this Border Battle is starting to really grow with our team and I think a lot of the teams here, and having obviously our volleyball team beat Minnesota at home was great. And that's our expectation…. that's a Friday night game for us, and under the lights, hosting our home opener in the Big Ten.
"Our team is right now it's very balanced in our scoring, which is what a coach always wants. We've got numerous players getting points for us. So we're off to, right now we're ten games in, halfway through our season, and what Barry had mentioned about getting better every weekend, that's something, again, that I think our team, they understand. We have an experienced group of players.
"And this year the conference is going to be, I think, the wildest conference race ever. It's got such parity and you can see just in the standings how there's such a blend of, besides Penn State, records there. Everybody has had some good victories. And we did very well as a conference in our challenge against the Big 12, which will help us nationally in the end. That's real important…
"We've played ten games and five were in overtime. As a coach I don't like that because that's too many, but it's given us some great experience as we head into the meat of our season. And, you know, you win some of those, you lose some, you tie some, and it gives you this experience I think which is valuable down the road. And for us to improve and get better each weekend is real important.
"Penn State offers just a great challenge. They're 10-0. They're No. 2 in the country. We played Portland, No. 3 in the country, so it's going to be a great game. They escaped an overtime win against Purdue and it just shows you that on any given Sunday they're a team that we can beat. We know that going in.
"They have one star special player who; she's got 15 goals already in Tiffany Weimer. She's been the leader in our conference. So it's going to be a key for us to strategize a way to stop Tiff Weimer. You need to worry about Penn State overall, but I think we'll devise a strategy. Two years ago, again, we stopped Penn State here and it'll be a great challenge for our team to play No. 2 in the country."
Do you get to be kind of like a mad scientist, where you get to go behind your curtain and devise all these schemes and that's the fun part of what you do?
"Partly it's based on your personnel sometimes, who can create maybe something for your team and devising some schemes and strategies. Two years ago against Penn State we had this great scheme plan that just, it worked, and it was sort of ‘pack it and jack it and then counterattack it.' You use these little phrases with your team and they buy into it and they absorb the information.
"Like Coach Alvarez talked about, you have very little time at halftime, but the preparation going into the weekend is very critical. And the focus will be Friday night against Minnesota, but you have that quick turnaround where then you have to create a game plan against Penn State and it's very, very fun and an enjoyable part of the job is to, you know, we have to play two completely different games this weekend. Now that's, that takes some adjustments and flexibility on your players' part. Fortunately, this team has some experience so you can also use that to your advantage. But it's, that's kind of the fun part of the game as well."
You dropped two matches. Are you playing well? Obviously not well enough to win those games, but did you play all right this past weekend? [Editor's note: The Badgers went 0-1-1 last weekend]
"We played great, actually. We played our worst half of soccer all season in the first half against Illinois. It was conditions on the field were just miserable and the wind was a factor, and they scored two goals first 15, second half we scored two goals first 15. And our team just played excellent actually against Iowa and just we missed about eight sitters. That is like missing three-foot putts.
"That stuff happens and great teams can just rebound and move forward. It's a game we should have won. You look at should-haves, it's how this team handles that and I think they're experienced, they know what to expect. The three losses we've had, two in overtime, one to Portland. It's one of those things that we're not looking back.
"We're looking forward and being eager about, your point is we have played excellent soccer and from a coaching standpoint, we've got it going, you know, and now we just need to, you know, last half of the season right now, move forward, get better, keep improving because we know how critical — your last ten games make your season right now."
You mentioned you enjoy playing under the lights, but Penn State is going to be played during the day. Weimer is only eight goals away from breaking the Big Ten record. Is Lynn Murray and the defense ready for her and how are you guys going to, what are you guys going to do to help stop her rush?
"Basically you condense the field, you slow down the game, you score a goal and then you put the pressure on them. But I think we're going to have to devise some scheme with Weimer. And she's just someone special that has to be paid attention to. We're ready for that challenge. I mean, we've played UCLA. We've played Notre Dame. We've played great teams in the past.
"Portland this year obviously opened our eyes in a different way. But with Penn State, they're a team that our group of players know we can beat that team. We've had success against them so that's just important going into the match. It could go for the Big Ten championship. You beat Penn State, you've got a chance for the title."
After the Portland game, you said they were one of the best teams you've seen in a long time. How do you think Portland has helped set up for this upcoming match against Penn State, and do you think Penn State is going to be a better team than Portland?
"I think Penn State has one incredible player and a very, very athletic, solid team behind them. I think Portland is a team with overall a much better soccer team. The thing is Penn State is more athletic and more physical and that's part of the way our conference is, is the way that teams play in our conference are a little more direct and that's how Penn State plays.
"Portland is just a team that every player on their team can play really a beautiful game of soccer. And so it's just, the whole idea is that you're playing a team that's on paper one of the top teams in the country, and we've done that before. And it's great to have them at home, to have this upset, much like our football program."