The Bent Musket spoke to Breakers captain Cat Whitehill after the team's kit launch at We Got Soccer in Foxborough. At the event, coach Tom Durkin announced, among other things, that his plan was to win the league in three years and spend this season rebuilding and rejuvenating. Whitehill was candid about the team's struggles last season but optimistic about where the Breakers are headed in 2015.
Q: Hi Cat. First of all, how did the winter treat you?
Whitehill: The winter, oh my gosh. This Alabamian's not used to over a 110 inches of snow up here. But surprisingly I actually had a lot of fun with it. It helps when you have dogs that love to play in the snow. It forces you to get out. We have a field near us and I would just let them go and they would run and fortunately the snow slows my German Shepherd down a lot because she can run pretty far, pretty fast, but she couldn't with all this snow because she had to hop to run. So I actually didn't mind it all that bad. Take it for what it's worth. I'll never experience something like that again.
Q: Speaking of dogs, who's better, your dogs or Morgan Marlborough and Kassey Kallman's dogs?
Whitehill: Oh without a doubt, my dogs are better. Obviously. But better depends on your terminology. Mine are two big dogs and you got one big and a small dog with theirs. They haven't met yet so I'm excited about that meeting.
Q: It sounds like you're settling into Boston after being here for a couple of years.
Whitehill: Yeah. I love it here actually. My husband's doing his fellowship here at Boston Children's in pediatric cardiology. We really like it. I've gotten a lot of really good friends. I love the area. It's a big city with a small-town feel, which I love. It's not too overwhelming. My family loves it. They love to come visit. This has been my home now, this is my fourth year and I have at least three more to go. So thanks to my husband, but we love it.
Q: How is the back line coming along this season?
Whitehill: You know, it's improving from last year. That was one of the things that we needed to do. We needed to improve it. We have Mollie Pathman who's coming on a second year. I mean, she's improved so much and she was already really good last year. But she hadn't been playing in that position in college and we kind of converted her last year and now she's really honed in on that and you can tell. You know, she's special. Adding Kallman to our roster is amazing. I remember watching her in college and I always wanted to play with her so that's exciting. Julie and, you know, we're even converting Maddy back there some a little bit, and Rachel coming back. So it's coming along really well and it's a good core group.
Q: On that note, how do you guys plan to improve on last season's defense?
Whitehill: Well I think we want to improve all over the field when it comes to defense. Getting our press in the right situation, knowing where our midfield's going to be and the terminology we have down from Tom a lot better. You know, he just had different terminology and the communication at the beginning was difficult, but now it's very seamless. So I think if we get it all around with the high pressure all over the field, it's really going to help our back line. It's going to be easier for us to read back there. So I think that's what's going to be a big reason why our back line's going to get better. Because you know, everyone puts all the goals on the back line. Now obviously we struggled. I struggled last year. But I think if all eleven of us buy in to what Tom's telling us, that's going to be what's going to be the best defense.
Q: Coach Durkin said you had a three-year plan to win the league but, especially this season with key players being gone for the World Cup, you think you could surprise some people?
Whitehill: Oh, yeah. You know, I do think so. The World Cup is really going to be interesting without some key players for certain teams. You know, this team, we were pretty cohesive pretty quickly, which is exciting, and I think that's a good sign for things to come with our team. And so that's why I do think we can surprise people. And I know everybody picked us last or second to last, and we're hoping it's not going to be the same thing because I really think that we're going to be a much-improved team from last year.
Q: How's it going with Jami Kranich? Julie King had a lot of good things to say about her. She's come up a lot since last season. I interviewed her and she said you'd been working with her pretty intensively.
Whitehill: Yeah. To go from last year where she started out the preseason injured, that's tough. I think Ashley Phillips, you have to look at her as one of the best goalkeeper coaches in the league, because she has Alyssa, and the Trinidad & Tobago keeper [Kimika Forbes] from the reserves she also trained. She's just training great keeper after great keeper. I even told her, look at your long list. I think it helps Jami a lot. And you're seeing that vast improvement. She's come in fitter than she's ever been this year. Her feet are quick. She's leading the back line. She already had so many quality skills and she's just added to them and I think that's really encouraging for us because we're going to need her to be a leader in the back. And it's nice to get familiar with her voice, because it's going to be very important because we're not going to have Alyssa all the time, it looks like.
Q: Do you think US Soccer would ever poach Ashley Phillips from you guys?
Whitehill: Who knows? They need a new goalkeeper coach still, right? You know, they should. Honestly I think Ashley's one of the best in the league. I think she can be, the more experienced she gets, she can be one of the best in the country. I can foresee her doing youth teams and full teams. She knows her stuff and she's really good at being honest. You know, holding you accountable and making sure you're getting the quality workouts.
Q: Okay, last question. You might have heard I'm asking everyone on the team this. It's the zombie apocalypse.
Whitehill: I did hear this.
Q: Who's the first to go and who leads the team to safety?
Whitehill: First to go will probably be Jasmin Corniel, just because she wouldn't know which direction to go in. And then the one to lead us, well, I would hope it would be me. Who would I follow would be the question, right? You know, I would say Mollie Pathman. That's who I would say would lead us because she's brilliant and she could devise a plan pretty quickly and she'd get us out of there to safety pretty quickly.