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Sept. 4, 2015

In this week’s Q&A, junior goalkeeper Rebecca Holden talks about playing in her home state (as well as sharing some New Jersey Fun Facts), the win over Penn State, why she plays goalie as well as many other topics.

This is your first time playing in New Jersey as a college athlete, correct?
Yes. My first two years, we didn’t play Rutgers, so I didn’t expect to be playing in New Jersey. Last year, we played them in Charlottesville, so I thought it might be possible. This is a nice weekend to have.

How big of a cheering section will you have for those games?
My immediate family is coming and my two grandparents. Rutgers is still two hours and 20 minutes from my hometown. Fishing Creek and Cape May, where I grew up, is on the very southern tip of New Jersey. The one thing I like to tell people about how far south it is is that we are actually below the Mason-Dixon line, we are that far down. It is a beautiful beach town. But hopefully some other people will see it online and make the drive.

Do you have some other Fun Facts about the Garden State?
The world’s first full dinosaur skeleton was discovered in New Jersey in Haddonfield, in 1858. Dinosaurs are big in New Jersey. We have a state dinosaur, the Hadrosurus. I also know the state bird, the Eastern Goldfinch.

You are coming into the road trip 2-0. What is the mood of the team right now?
I think everyone is really excited to get back out on the pitch after Penn State. While that was a big win and we are really excited, there were some things we really wanted to work on through the course of the week to improve our game. These being the third and fourth games of the season, we really want to prove that we are contenders not just in the ACC, but nationally. We want to show that other teams should be looking out for us.

What did you see in the Penn State game from your vantage point in the net?
A lot of it was trying to see baseline defense and organize cover. I did my best to stay calm because a frantic goalkeeper is never a particularly effective one. For me, the largest part of being successful in the game was reacting to what I saw. Little deflections that they had, balls coming to my left, when they were on my right, that kind of thing.

You had 10 saves against the Nittany Lions. Was there one save that you saw in film or that stood out in your mind while you were playing it that you are particularly proud of?
There was a moment that I made a save and Jeannie [Blackwood] came up to me and said ‘You are having the game of your life!’ and I said ‘Jeannie, there is still 18 minutes left! You can’t say that!’. There was a save in the second half where one girl got the ball above the stroke mark and she hit it on a reverse and it ended up going left of my left glove side. That was a quick reaction that I had to have, which I was quite happy about because it is more comfortable for a goalkeeper to dive to the right than it is to dive to the left. Having that reaction and seeing it come off the stick, making that save was big. A lot the parents after the game told me that the save that I had diving across the cage and getting it with my stick was a favorite. They said ‘Oh, you covered eight feet!’ Thank goodness, because I’m only five-three.

You and Carrera Lucas are splitting time in goal this season. You have been part of a goal keeping platoon before, but what is the difference for you this year in being the more senior part of the platoon?
Coming into this season, I really felt a lot more confident in my abilities. I was really looking forward to getting out on the field and getting to show what I could do and will continue to do hopefully through the rest of the season. Working with Carrera in the goal the last couple of weeks has been awesome. We do have different styles of play, so both of us can approach the same situation in different ways. If I look at how Carrera is playing it and it is more effective than what I am doing, I’ll tweak what I am bringing to my game and vice versa. We are always talking in the back of the cage about different plays and where we want to put different players for better defense. We have a mutual respect of what we both bring to the team. We both have great confidence in each other’s abilities and also look at it as being a team. Together, we are going to get the job done and it is a joy to work with her.

Your new assistant coach, Ole Keusgen, is a defensive specialist. What changes have you seen with the defense under his watch?
I think he has brought a lot of knowledge. He has brought a lot of energy into our play. I think we are playing more aggressive and smarter defense than we have before. It looks a lot cleaner than it did in the past, which is fantastic. For Carrera and I, when we are working with him, it is fast-paced and intense. It’s dynamic and up-in-the-air, the upper 90’s of the goal. And then you are down sliding and making stick saves. He has stepped up what our defense is capable of doing. We had a solid defense before, but now we have a defense that also has an attack mindset.

During warm-ups the other day when you were getting pelted with shots, someone asked a rhetorical question that I am now going to ask you. Why would someone want to be a field hockey goalie? It looks like it hurts.
Sometimes it does. To me, though, being a goalkeeper is the most exciting job on the field because you are the last line of defense and the first line of offense. Your performance can make or break how your team does. It’s a high-risk and high-reward position, which makes it really exhilarating. It is so much fun getting to throw yourself around. Who else on the field gets to dive as high as they can and then slide across. It’s just a lot of fun. Yes, you get pelted with balls, but you get to say you made the save.

You are a junior on the roster, but you are graduating this year. How is your final year as an undergrad going for you?
I think it is going really well. The great thing about this year is that I get to really choose my schedule based on classes I want to take as opposed to classes I have to take, so I am in some interesting classes outside of my English major. I am in a scene painting class in the drama department. I really enjoy drama and I really enjoy art as well, so getting to learn techniques for scene painting is cool. We also do lab hours where we work on the actual sets for the shows. I am in a mythodology course that Roy Wagner teaches. It is an anthropology course that uses obviation technique to analyze and understand substitutions in stories. It is a really complex thing that I still trying to understand. We are reading a lot of [Jorge Luis] Borges and taking apart what he has written.
It’s a lot of fun, too, because I get to say ‘After this year, I graduate. And then I’m coming back!’

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