When the word “clutch” comes up in conversation, junior forward Alex Henry is the first thing to come to mind. Henry has embodied every aspect of the word, with two huge game-winners against Cal State Fullerton and UC Santa Barbara this season.
In general, Henry’s clutch performances throughout the Big West Conference have been a huge factor in UC Davis’s current position as the No. 1 seed. Henry, who recently garnered two Big West Offensive Player of the Week awards for his timely goals, sat down with Aggie Sports Writer Veena Bansal to discuss his thoughts on his performance, team dynamic, and expectations for the future of the men’s soccer team.
What are your thoughts on being named to the Soccer America’s Team of the Week and being dubbed the Big West Player of the Week two weeks in a row?
I mean, I guess obviously I think it’s pretty cool to be recognized by others for what I do on the field, but at the same time I could not do it without the team.
We’re all playing really well. Our team’s really come together these past few games and I’ve just been lucky to have been on the end of a couple goals there. So I’m just fortunate and just excited to finish out the season strong, really.
Were there any particular thoughts running through your mind before you struck the game-winners against Cal State Fullerton and UCSB?
Really, I was just trying to give my team a chance against Fullerton. A ball came out and I saw the opportunity to take a shot so I did and lucky enough it went in. So that one was pretty lucky. And on the Santa Barbara goal, I just wanted to give my team a chance, you know, put it on the back post and, lucky enough, it went in also!
What is your biggest motivation in soccer?
I’d have to say my family. They started me when I was little, before I could even remember and I loved it so I stuck with it all my life. I’m just playing for my family and my friends and obviously to represent this school and get UC Davis out there in the soccer world and in NCAA sports.
We’re all coming up with big wins across all the sports and that’s what all our student athletes want to do — get UC Davis out there, get us well-known and hopefully get more fans out to all of our games.
What are your thoughts on your performance so far?
There’s always room for improvement. I’m excited enough to be on the ends of those goals and to be playing well this season. I know everyone around me has been working their butts off to play well also.
Everyday we come out with a goal to get 1 percent better every single day so that’s what we try to do, improve on the little things and the big picture will all come together in the end. There’s always room for improvement.
Are there any particular things you do to keep calm and focused toward the end of a match that is scoreless or in favor of the opponent?
Well, really just keeping your focus, you know; by the end of the match your body’s tired, your team’s tired but you also know that the other team is going through the same thing so you have to keep reminding yourself that your opponents are too.
And I just keep focusing on my breathing, really, and keep my focus on the game and not on any uncontrollables.
How is it being on the road with your teammates and prepping for away games?
It’s a lot of fun. Road trips are one of my favorite things. I mean, I love being at home. The home crowd is great, I love home field advantage, but when you’re on the road we all like to have a great time.
There’s a lot of little practical jokes we play on each other on the road and it’s just a lot of fun. This year we focused more on our road games because last year we didn’t get the results.
But this year we’ve done pretty well on the road so far and we want to carry that into our last two road games. So we just like to enjoy ourselves, really, and we’re all having fun.
Do you have any superstitions or particular things you absolutely have to do before a match?
Well, I always put my left boot on first, so that’s a little superstition, I guess. But other than that, I just focus on my preparation, lots of visualization too. Just to visualize myself on the field, the team on the field, what I’m gonna do — which helps a lot when I’m out there. It comes naturally, [I] don’t have to think about it as much.
What are some memorable moments you’ve had with the team this season?
Our trip to Texas was pretty memorable. We got out there with a solid win. Ryan Gross came up with two big goals and that whole trip was just a great experience. I mean, yeah, that win against Santa Barbara was a lot of fun. They’ve had our number the past two years and we finally came out with a win against them which felt great. Those two were big moments in the year that’ll stick with me.
Where do you see the team going for the rest of the season?
I see us getting at least top two in the Big West. We’re shooting for that first seed in the Big West Conference tournament, which is first in the North, and I feel like we’re gonna make that. I think we’re gonna go strong in the Big West tournament and carry that into the NCAA tournament, which is what we’re all striving for.
So as long we can keep our composure, stick to our game plan and just play our game and enjoy ourselves I think we’ll have a great chance to make those happen.
VEENA BANSAL can be reached at email@example.com.