The Knox Student: Being halfway through the season with no losses must be quite a feeling. How’s the road to this point been?
Sierra Daniger: So far the road’s been very impressive, but I’ve been pretty removed from my role due to how good my backfield has been and my midfield for that point. It’s been fantastic to watch as the girls have grown. We’ve had weeks where we could have flipped the switch off, but the girls managed to stay switched on and bring everything together for conference week.
TKS: Is there anything the team could somehow improve upon?
SD: I don’t see much for the team to improve on other than being consistent with reaching our mental results every week of practice and games.
TKS: You were recently named Knox Women’s Soccer Performer of the Week. Thoughts?
SD: I was surprised actually. The first part of the season we weren’t scored on and I know a lot of people attribute that to the goalkeeper, but as I said earlier, I haven’t been doing much with how much of the game happens in front of me while I step up and watch. I would have rather seen the award go to Jacqlynn Milligan or Angelica Gamez, one of my center backs Ð maybe, since I know how much work they do to make my job easier.
TKS: With 10 wins and no losses, the one tie might stick out on your record. How did the game against Coe stand out compared to games prior?
SD: I count that game as a testament to the randomness of soccer. I know a lot of the girls had looked at Coe’s previous record and seen how they had done, and they had been talking about it at breakfast that morning. So we went in with a mindset of this game was not going to be like the ones before it, and I think that if we as a team hadn’t had that in the back of our minds we could have played more loose and approached the game very differently.
TKS: Many of your wins have been large blowouts. Has it been easy to keep focus during this high scoring matches?
SD: Surprisingly yes. We’re trying out a lot of new players in new positions so you always have to be aware and on your toes. We also have a lot of girls who haven’t scored and get switched in the game often, and they want to score badly. That was obvious from our game against Monmouth where a couple of girls got on the scorecard for the first time. It’s good to see the team building on what we’ve learned, so we can be ready against stronger competition later in the season.
TKS: Do you feel this season’s group of freshmen have made as good of an impact as your class?
SD: I’d say yes, though comparably it’s hard to show that with how much my class brought in. We have only seven, but they all fill specific needs and spots throughout, and everyone pushes everyone to be that much better.
TKS: Has it been hard to not think ahead to postseason play after proving yourself against the usual opponents the last two seasons?
SD: If I’m honest yeah, but we’ve all had that moment of checking ourselves, but again our coaches have been great at reminding us it’s one day at a time. Obviously we want to be in that St. Norbert game from last year and move on, but the team’s been good at focusing on one game and one practice at a time.
TKS: When did you first start playing soccer?
SD: I’ve been playing soccer since I was a baby; it just runs in the family. Even when I took time off to do Girl Scouts, my brothers played and my mom refereed, so soccer’s always been around. As far as the goalkeeping aspect goes I’ve been doing that since I started playing and spent half time at goalie and mid, and eventually decided to focus on keeper.
TKS: Do you feel extra pressure playing goalkeeper for a successful team?
SD: Not necessarily. I’m a goalkeeper who thrives on pressure, but knowing how good the people in front of me are makes it easy to take a step back in games. Not to mention the goalkeepers behind me competing for my job, and knowing that I need to train them up to keep the position strong. I don’t ever want to let that group of 10 who play in front of me down.
TKS: Who inspires or has inspired you to play soccer?
SD: I’d say my mom for sure. She was a goalkeeper through college and started training me as soon as I started playing. My brother also has been pushing me to go above and beyond what I can do. It’s great to have that kind of support there all the time.
TKS: How did last year’s conference championship loss affect the team’s dedication and momentum going into this season?
SD: Coming out of that game I think a lot of us were still proud of how much we had accomplished, but this year we all know we can go farther. The team is always thinking that our goal is to make the NCAA tournament, nothing less should be acceptable.
TKS: Do you feel extra motivation to avenge that loss?
SD: I think we would have a more vengeful spirit if Carroll University was still in the conference. But we still remember that the preseason polls had us predicted to finish third, and knowing that we have to prove ourselves again.