The Seattle Reign is back training at for their fourth National Women’s Soccer League season.
And since they have had the best regular-season record each of the past two seasons -- yet have come up short in the league final -- it seems like maybe the club could almost view the 2016 regular season just a long runup to the postseason when the real success of failure of the season will be determined.
Might feel that way to some. But certainly not to coach Laura Harvey or midfielder Keelin Winters, who each spoke on the topic Tuesday. Below is some of what each had to say, and we’ll have a little more in a story that will appear online this evening and in the paper tomorrow.
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On if it’s hard not to view this regular season just as a long preseason leading to the playoffs: I think that’s been something other teams have done, and that’s why we go the way we go. The regular season to us really matters. The Shield matters. We want to win the league. Every game matters. Yes, we want to get to the championship, and yes we want to win it. But I think if you take your eye off of what gets you there, then that’s the recipe for disaster in my opinion. I think for me the regular season is as important – if not more important in a way – than the postseason. Because if you mess up in the season – in a league of 10, when there’s only four that (make the playoffs) – you could lose five games in that regular season, and that could be you finishing fifth. So you have to get that right. And then once you’ve done that, the hard part for us has been getting it right after that. We’ve got to solve that bit. I’m happy with how we approach the regular season. I think it’s important that we do that. In both semifinal in both years, they’ve probably been up there in our best performances. We get that right. We just now have to get that right in the final.
On if there’s any difference in building a team for playoff success or regular-season success: I don’t think so. I think the hard thing about the postseason is it’s do or die, and that’s it. It’s win or go home. In the regular season, you know that if you don’t have the greatest game that you can respond the next week. Postseason is perform or go home. And when we’ve had to do that, we’ve done that. In the semifinals when it’s been home field advantage and we’ve gone for it, we’ve played brilliantly. I thought we played brilliantly in both semifinals – especially last year’s one was an excellent performance. And then we’ve just got to get it right in that one game – that one game.
On if it’s hard not to view this season as a long slog to October: I guess. I think right now everybody’s just so excited to be back in, playing at Memorial and being back with each other day in and day out. And regardless it’s about the process. We don’t come here just to go to right into the playoffs. We come here to go through the process: to get fit – which is what preseason’s about – to nail down all the tactical and technical things that we want to nail down in preseason, and just enjoy the journey. Of course you come in here to make playoffs, but you have to make it first. So you have to enjoy the process or otherwise it’s just going to feel like a long six months.