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Rocke Returning to Form as Big Sky Season Commences

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – As a redshirt freshman in 2008, goalkeeper Tori Rocke started all but one game for Northern Arizona on the Lumberjacks memorable run to a Big Sky championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. After missing the first three games of 2009 recovering from off-season shoulder surgery, Rocke has once again assumed the starting role in the Lumberjack goal. She earned All-Big Sky Honorable Mention in 2008 and is already fourth in NAU soccer history in career saves (169) and fifth in shutouts (8). The sophomore talked about her recovery from surgery, last season’s success, and the Lumberjacks defense of the Big Sky title.

On recovering from off-season shoulder surgery:
“It was a lot of focus and hard work. I still have extra weight lifting each week to try to strengthen all of the muscles and get the shoulder back to where it was. I wasn’t cleared by the doctor to play until the second week of the season.”

On missing the first three games this season:
“It was tough not being able to be on the road with the team and supporting them. But, I knew it was for the best to stay home and get in some extra training. It was also good to learn how the team was going to be playing this year by watching them from the bench (in the Aug. 28 home game against Arizona) and getting a different vantage point.”

On returning to goal in the fourth game of the season:
“I felt like I was ready but I just needed to fine-tune some things since it had been a while since I was diving and doing those kinds of activities. Coach made sure to get me some extra practice sessions in goal to help me get back into the swing of things.”

On starting all but one game last season as a redshirt freshman:
“It was exciting to play after sitting my true freshman year. I got to understand how the college game was played and how fast it was as a redshirt, and that gave me a lot of confidence to start right away last season. It was a great learning experience and I knew what to expect.”

On the experience of going to the NCAA Tournament last season:
“That was an exciting experience. I was so proud of everyone for working so hard and giving us the opportunity to play at that level. I think we have a pretty good chance of getting back there this year.”

On pregame rituals:
“I don’t really have anything special I do. I’m kind of quiet before games, which is surprising because normally I talk a lot. So, that kind of throws people for a loop. I just like to sit in a corner and be quiet. I put my stuff on the same way every time and just go out and play. I don’t kiss the goalposts or anything too superstitious.”

On getting ready for the Big Sky season:
“I feel like I’m back to 100% now and I’m really excited to start conference play. I think we’re all ready to have a great run like last year. We have a similar record this season entering conference, so I think the team definitely is confident that we can win the Big Sky again.”