Quincy Amarikwa has experienced a lot in his four years at UC Davis.
When Amarikwa first came to the school, the Aggies were a Division II program. Now, they’re one of the top teams in the country – and Amarikwa has become one of the most dangerous scorers in the nation in the process.
After learning of his team’s bid to the NCAA Tournament, Amarikwa sat down with Aggie Staff Writer Max Rosenblum to discuss the tournament selection, his team’s offensive success and his first-born child.
What it is like for this program to make the NCAA Tournament two years in a row and get to host a playoff game on Saturday?
Being able to host a game this year was our No. 1 goal. Last year it was to make the tournament. This year it was to host the first playoff game here. This is the first step we needed to take to achieve our goal of getting a national championship. But we still have to recognize that we have to take it one game at time. Just because we have got to this point doesn’t mean anything is going to be given to us. We still have to work for it.
What are your expectations going into this NCAA Tournament match with Denver? How do you match up with them?
I expect us to dominate this game offensively. I expect us to impose our will on this team and make a statement in the tournament that if you match up against us, we are going to come to play. Us making it two years in a row isn’t a fluke. We can advance out of the first round.
Speaking of imposing your will offensively, where has the offense been as of late? Your team hasn’t scored a goal in its past three games.
I think we got a little bit comfortable with where we were at. You can’t do that in soccer. Any team can win on any day. A big part of college soccer is which team comes out and works harder that day. You win 90 percent of your games if you work harder than the other team. We just lost sight of that. We are being given an opportunity to play soccer another day so we need to take advantage of this opportunity and the gift of having a home game.
Talk about the affect the injury to your co-captain Ahmad Hatifie has had on the team.
He was the captain, a leader on the team. He was the center of our midfield, the center of our attack and the center of our defense.… Losing him was a blow to the team in the sense of a senior role leadership position – someone who a lot of the younger guys look up to as a player. He was a loss but the thing that is good about our team is that we go so deep into the bench that any reserve player can come on and talent-wise replace him. But what we seem to have lacked isn’t so much the talent, but the intensity and competitive spirit that Ahmad brought.
What was it like for you to score two goals against UC Santa Barbara team, one of which by way of a bicycle kick?
My role on the team is to do whatever is necessary of me that game. Some games it’s for me to score and other games it’s for me to take pressure off of other players so that they can get in behind. That game, Paul Marcoux set me up for the first goal with a very good through ball and I capitalized on my opportunity. Ian [Conklin] did the same.
Everybody loves to watch you play. From your perspective, who is the player on your team that you enjoy watching and that never ceases to amaze you?
I just love to play. I play as hard as I can, and it’s nice if people enjoy watching that. But Sule [Anibaba] is a player that when he has the ball, I will put all my money and my first-born child that he won’t lose it because his strength on the ball is unmatched, especially within our conference or anyone I have seen us play against. His ability to shield a player and overall strength on the ball is unmatched in my eyes and that has always amazed me. I have never seen a player complement themselves so much with so much power and strength but also play the finesse game.
Coach Dwayne Shaffer has talked about the fact that this may be one of the best teams he has ever had. How does that make you feel? Is it something that you won’t fully comprehend till 10 years down the road?
I guess I don’t like to look at things until we’re finished and we see where we’re at, at the end, as opposed to settling with where we are now. When you do that you get comfortable and you don’t play as hard and I don’t like that. A big part of my game is playing as hard as I can and never giving up. I guess we will have to wait 10 years down the road to see how UC Davis soccer continues to establish itself. I know a lot of new recruits and good players are coming up, and a lot of the guys on team right now are going to be really good caliber players.
What do you plan to do after you graduate?
I have no idea. If the opportunity is presented to me to play soccer somewhere and make a living out of it, I will definitely take that as my first option. If it doesn’t happen to work out that way, I will still have my degree [in biological sciences] and experience here at Davis to fall back on. Hopefully, soccer works out, but if not, I will always have that degree.
MAX ROSENBLUM can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.