I guess I could say this every year, but I think our non-conference schedule has prepared us well for conference games. We have defended skillful ground attacks, high pressure aerial attacks, counter attacks, 3 forwards, 2 forwards, wide players, etc. We have played in heat, wind, rain, dew, etc. We have lost in overtime. We have won in overtime. We have been up by one and maintained a lead. We have been down by one and pressed to equalize. We have come from behind to win. We have lost players to injury. We have been lucky, and we have been unlucky. We have been mature and focused, and we have been immature and unfocused.
We have learned a lot since August 14th, and we will continue to learn, but I believe we are well-prepared for this part of our season.
The one thing we have not done is play at home. Construction for the temporary media building started on September 8th. The building will house the various media that are here for the Presidential Debate on October 7th. You can see pictures of it on this link. http://forum.belmont.edu/fyi/
Other than one practice at University School River Campus, one game at Battle Ground Academy, and one game at Brentwood High School, we have been practicing and playing at Vanderbilt University. I appreciate all the help and support of the coaches and administrators at USN, BGA, and Brentwood High. They were very nice to allow us to use their facilities. Without the help of the coaching staff at Vanderbilt - Ronnie Coveleskie, Cristin Czubik, Eric Vaughter - and their Director of Soccer Operations - Lori Alexander - I don't know if we would have a place to play this year. Vanderbilt's facilities are first class. For them to allow us to use them has been above and beyond expectations.
Youth and change are going to be underlying themes in all my entries. It is very common for us to start 8 freshmen and sophomores, 1 junior and 2 seniors. Our non-conference results have been good but very different than last year when we only gave up 2 goals in our first 9 games. Unfortunately, we are allowing far more goals than we like. You can bet that is going to be addressed in training as we prepare for our conference opponents. There will be a few changes going into conference games. It takes a few games to sort out where and how each player can contribute most. Some of our injured players have gotten more healthy, but some of our healthy players have gotten injured, so that is something we will continue to deal with.
Consistency is another problem. We had some players get off to a slow start, but they are playing well now. Anna Walsh is one of those. At the same time, we have some starters who are not performing to the level that they were a month ago. We must continue to win as we go through these peaks and valleys. Then, we must all be peaking for the conference tournament in November.