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Friday, May 17, 2024

Inside the Game with …

The women’s soccer season has had its share of ups and downs this season.

The Aggies started off cold in their exhibition game against St. Mary’s, heated up against Sacramento State and went through a tough four-game skid during the course of the year.

While injuries racked up faster than goals at varying points in the season, Lisa Kemp’s presence has been powerful.

The native of Eden Prairie, Minn. has put up another solid year. She is the team leader in points (12) and assists (4).

“There’s no doubt she’s a quality player,” said coach Maryclaire Robinson. “She’s very deceptive and creates a lot of offensive opportunities and is very difficult to defend.”

Before the last two home games of the season, Kemp took some time to talk with Aggie Sports Writer Matt Wang to talk about soccer, pregame rituals and her future.

I noticed you and your teammates passing out objects and listing achievements after practice. Is that part of a ritual you do as a team?

It’s called power beads and it’s designed to recognize people’s accomplishments. If you score a goal you’ll get recognized and get a gold bead. We also have team goals and if we accomplish them, we’ll get beads as well.

Speaking of traditions, does the team have any pre-game rituals?

We all meet together but some people do different things. I like to listen to music. Other people like to hang out and stay peaceful. Some people like to dance. We get a little awkward when we all get excited before a game.

Even though you’re all excited, do some of you get nervous right before a game? If so, what do the coaches do to help?

Sometimes one of the coaches will come in with some random team activities to get us all as one before a game. Other than that, we just like to dance.

What are some of coach Maryclaire Robinson’s strengths that she uses to benefit the team?

She knows [the opponent’s] formation and how we need to match up against them. She gets their weaknesses and our strengths so we can mentally prepare for the game. Mentally, we need to stay with her the entire game.

It’s easy to tell how well you played based on how many goals and assists you get. But in games where you don’t score or get an assist, how do you judge your athletic performance?

I want to think about individual battles. I think whether or not I beat one girl of if she beat me throughout the entire game. Also, I ask myself whether or not I stayed with it mentally during the entire game. I also ask myself, “Did I do what I started out to do?”

The season has certainly been full of ups and downs. Could you describe your take on the past two months?

It’s definitely been a roller coaster. When you’re in preseason, it’s a totally different feel than when you come into conference play. We’re such a young team. This year has definitely been a learning experience.

For a lot of your games, it seems like you guys are in it until the very end. Then something bad happens like a defensive breakdown. Why do you think this is?

Everyone’s stepped up, but we just end up being unlucky for some reason. We can’t play the full 90 minutes and we’ve been losing by one goal. It’s unfortunate, but we’re playing really hard and we’ve been playing really well.

Injuries are a part of every season, but this year the team has been hit particularly hard, especially when leading scorer Allison Kelly went down. What have you done to compensate for the loss?

I have more of a responsibility on offense to try and create opportunities because [Kelly] is so good at creating them herself. I’m trying to find the back of the net without her.

You are from Minnesota but you chose to come out to UC Davis? Why did you decide to become an Aggie?

I was born in Utah, but raised in Minnesota. I came to California for school and to get closer to family. I have two older sisters and two nephews here. My dad and extended family live out here, too.

You’re an athlete, but you’re also a student. What’s been your favorite class at UC Davis?

My favorite class has been Nutrition 10. A lot of athletes are in that class which makes it interesting.

What do you plan to do after you graduate?

I don’t really know yet. I just want to focus on graduating and then see what opportunities come after that.

Is keeping soccer in your life a priority for you after graduation then?

I wouldn’t say it’s a main priority. But if an opportunity arises, I’m sure I’ll take the opportunity.

Is there anything else you would like to tell the students of UC Davis?

If anyone wants to come out, support us. All the support helps whether it seems like it or not. We really like to see people in the stands.

MATT WANG can be reached at sports@theaggie.org.


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