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26

Jun, 2019

Presidents Cup One-on-One with Emile O'Brien

Following their recent championship win in the USYS Eastern Presidents Cup, U18 DC Stoddert Blue Metros is headed to Murfreesboro, Tenn. as one of the final four teams in the USYS National Presidents Cup. The U18 DC Stoddert Blue Metros team is the first DC Stoddert team to advance to the National President Cup. Leading up to the National Presidents Cup in mid-July, we will be releasing an interview series highlighting players and coaches from the Blue Metros team. Today we would like to introduce center midfielder Emile O’Brien who has been with DC Stoddert for six years.


What was the excitement level like for the team heading into the Eastern Presidents Cup seeing as it was a tournament that you hadn’t ever played in?


It was fun to go to a regional tournament. I was definitely very excited. The tension built up as we kept playing. The first few games were okay. The third game was intense. But then we moved forward and we focused.


How did the team feel about their chances heading into the Eastern Presidents Cup?


From the beginning, we had the mindset that we were winning the tournament. That was to our detriment sometimes. That was good for us sometimes. But, we definitely carried through with that attitude that we were going to win. We came to win.


What was the attitude/mentality/game plan going into the Eastern Presidents Cup final against a team that had beaten you in the group stages?


They were a very physical team, but their midfield build-up wasn’t as strong as ours. Because of that, Coach Matt had planned a change in strategy where we sat back a little more and invited their ball movement, but they couldn’t break through our pressure. Then (on the offensive side) we had a more organized build up in attack.


You just mentioned Coach Matt Thompson, can you talk about what he has meant for the team in terms of development and team chemistry?


Well, Coach Matt is a funny guy. He’s a serious guy when he needs to be but he’s a good guy, good coach, a good teacher, and he knows when to get personal. In terms of just soccer, I remember at the beginning of the season our midfield was totally rigid and he taught us how to play. There are more deeper details, but basically, he taught us how to be a successful midfield and that was essential to our team play.


You had Stoddert’s two goals in the Eastern Presidents Cup championship game against PWSI, can you walk me through those plays and what it was like to put your team up by two goals early in the game especially seeing as they were your first two goals of the tournament?


The first goal started with Jack Donnellan. He’s playing center back and he makes this run and just keeps going. He’s drifting down the right wing and we’re all shifting as we should to make sure it works. They kind of overloaded the right side of the 18-yard box towards the touchline and I was just lingering in good space because I think their center backs were distracted by an amazing run by our center back to the right wing. So he (Donnellan), just put in a cross... it took a deflection, then I just settled it and put it in the net. 


The second goal was off of a free kick. I actually didn’t think it was a free kick, I thought it was their ball and I was trying to get set up and then Hayden (Shepperd) was like “Emile, what are you doing?” So we’re getting set up and Luca (Merotto) is left footed. It’s on the right side of the 18-yard box and its like right outside of the box. So Luca’s going to whip it in. That’s the plan. It’s going to the back post. Jack and a ton of others are standing there and I’m more around the middle towards the goalkeeper… just inside the six-yard box. Luca crosses the ball and Jack heads it and it hits the bar. Then on the rebound, there were three other defenders and I just stepped first and was able to get to the ball and tap it in.


What’s the feeling around the team and practice knowing that you’re the first DC Stoddert team to go to the Eastern Presidents Cup, win the Cup, and now you’re going to be one of the final four teams in the country playing for a national trophy?


I haven’t really thought about it like that. I just think about it like soccer. You have to take it one game at a time… you really do. Honestly, we’re just going to go to Nashville and give it our all again. At practice, we’re just happy, but we have to push ourselves. We’re getting creative. It’s much better. Our confidence is boosted for sure. The thing is though, we’re just such a confident group. In training, the team is just playing so cohesively… It’s fluid, it’s beautiful. That was kind of how we played in the first half of the East Cup final. We were just fluid, our movement was in-sync. We were all focused because we just wanted it. We really wanted it.


Do you think the game plan or strategy for your team will change now that you’re down to the final four?


I think we’ll definitely try to play our way still because our way is pretty universal. We can use the width or we can go central. They won’t lock us up upfront. We have good people on the ball. We’ll be good. I think we’ll win.


Have you ever been to Nashville or Murfreesboro before?


 No… I hear they have good chicken in Nashville.


Is there anything specific you're looking forward to doing or seeing in Nashville?


Eating chicken.


Do you think the trip to Tennessee is going to be fun or strictly business?


It’s going to be fun. For us to win the tournament, we’re going to have to have some fun. It has to be focused, but also fun.


Are there any lessons that you learned at the Eastern Presidents Cup that you’re going to take to the National Presidents Cup?


Definitely get a hotel with a hot tub. The pool is good for stretching, but the hot tub is better.


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