VANCOUVER, B.C. – Team USA midfielder and East New Brunswick, New Jersey, native Heather O’Reilly has played a huge part in the success of Team USA at the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Vancouver, BC. Team USA earned a spot at the London, Olympics after a 3-0 win over Costa Rica on Friday night. O’Reilly had time for a quick interview the next day before Team USA takes to the pitch against Canada in the final game of the tournament on Sunday afternoon at 5pm.
Hi Heather how are you doing today?
Heather O’Reilly: Pretty good thank you.
Can you talk about how exciting it was for you and your teammates to earn a spot at the London, Olympics last night? What was the atmosphere like in your teams dressing room after the win over Costa Rica?
Heather O’Reilly: I just think that ever since our experience in the world cup qualifiers we kind of haven’t forgotten about that feeling of a dream nearly taken from us. It was definitely a weight off our shoulders for sure. Nobody wants to kind of talk about London until this tournament is behind us and now it’s just such a great feeling to really be able to talk about going to the Olympics.
With only a one goal lead over Costa Rica at the half was the team a little nervous did you think back to what happened against Japan?
Heather O’Reilly: Ya I think that we were a little bit uncomfortable. I think that Costa Rica really applied more pressure than we were sort of anticipating and we just sort of had trouble finding our rhythm. I think that’s kind of the atmosphere of a game like that. The opponent is always going to lay it out there and I think that it sort of took us a while to really settle down and be confident in our touches. I think that were all professionals and we’ve been in high pressure situations before so it was nothing we hadn’t felt before but at the same time I think that we wish that we put together a better performance. At the end of the day we got the result that we needed and scored some great late goals.
How do you approach the final game of the tournament against Canada? Both teams are going to the Olympics is this game all about bragging rights?
Heather O’Reilly: I think that both of us feel a tremendous weight off our shoulders and the pressure’s off. With that being said, first of all it’s a final of a tournament so being professional athletes and being all very competitive people we all want to win the final and then make it a US vs Canada final and it’s times ten in terms of competitiveness. I think that Canada/US has always been a tremendous rivalry in a lot of sports and soccer too. We respect the Canadians a lot and I think a lot of us are friendly because we played either at College together or in the WPS (Women’s Professional Soccer) together. At the end of the day we step onto that field all friendships aside its US/Canada and we love that rivalry.
How do you stop a player like Christine Sinclair who can do so much and has the offense of her team run through her in every game?
Heather O’Reilly: You need to limit Christine’s touches and give her a lesser success rate by cutting off channels into her and applying enough pressure all over the field so that it’s not an easy look to “Sinc”. She’s a world-class finisher, but we have a very very talented and quick back line that I have a lot of confidence in. I think that we are very aware of her at all times on the field but we’ll do our best to prevent her success.
Have you ever played on the same team with Christine Sinclair?
Heather O’Reilly: No I’ve never played with Christine Sinclair. I’ve played with Robyn Gayle at the University of North Carolina and I’ve played with Kelly Parker at Sky Blue FC but I’ve actually never played with “Sinc”
You’re from East Brunswick, New Jersey and Team USA has three other New Jersey natives on the team. Did you grow up playing with or against Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd, and Christie Rampone?
Heather O’Reilly: We all have a lot of Jersey Pride because for being such a small state we have a lot of players. There’s also a lot of players who were close to making the team and just missed the cut so there’s a ton of Jersey girls in our pool of the US Team so were very proud. Tobin and I did play together at the same soccer club PDA (Players Development Academy) in New Jersey and she’s a three years younger than I am. We missed each other in terms of growing up on the same teams but we definitely grew up in the same soccer culture and had a lot of the same coaches. We definitely have a very special bond of soccer in New Jersey, and Carli Lloyd as well. We also had one of the same coaches growing up. I’ve known those girls since we were teenagers.
Are you all signed up to play for the Boston Breakers in the upcoming 2012 WPS season?
Heather O’Reilly: Yes
The Boston Breakers have had a big turnover regarding players and coaches what kind of expectations do you have for the 2012 season?
Heather O’Reilly: There’s only five teams of course so all the teams are going to be very very competitive. In the WPS every weekend is a battle and I expect the same thing for the Breakers this year. I think that the Breakers have a lot of talent and I’m very excited to play with Kelly Smith from England. I haven’t played with her on the same side in over ten years. I’m excited to join forces with her. She’s one of the best out there and that’ll be a lot of fun. I think it’s sort of a fresh look for me this season. I’ve been at Sky Blue FC for the last three years so it’s something new and exciting and I’m looking forward to it.
What do you like to do in your off time to relax when your away from Team USA and when you’re not playing in the WPS?
Heather O’Reilly: I recently just moved to Boston with my husband so I really enjoy doing things in the city. I’m sort of a city girl, I lived in New York City for a couple of years and now I’m living in Boston. I love trying out new restaurants and seeing the sights of a new city so I’ve been doing that a lot in Boston. In the quiet of my own home I usually try to read a lot and watch movies. Because were so busy all the time anything I can do to relax and get off my feet is fun for me.
Good Luck with Team USA and the Boston Breakers Thank You very much.
Heather O’Reilly: Thank You very much.