Friday, August 28, 2009

Season Opener at UAB

Playing at UAB Friday night is probably the most competitive season opener I've had at Belmont. They were 2-0 with 2 shutouts and ranked #7 in the region. Their opponents so far had been Texas A&M, Alabama, and Ole Miss.

I was worried that if UAB got an early goal and got the crowd into it, we might not respond well this early in the season. Once the game started, I thought we might be the team to get the early goal. I was very pleased with how we played for the first 20 minutes of the game. I did not see visible signs of nervousness or anxiety. We worked together. We had possession of the ball a lot, and we created a few scoring chances. We did not leave ourselves exposed in the back. We certainly did not dominate the entire half and defended a lot in the last 15 minutes of the first half, but I thought it was a very good first 45 minutes to start the season.

The second 45 minutes was no worse. Our depth began playing a factor when Lydia Wright and Dani Stolt combined to give us one of our better chances to score. We began wearing down their right back, and LP got behind her, but the goalkeeper denied her low shot to the corner. UAB scored in the 79th minute even though we had pressure on the ball and good shape in the box. They definitely created their own scoring chance. We did not give them their goal. Although it was a 1-0 loss, it was a good start to our season.

It was great to have alumni and alumni parents at our game.

I am looking forward to Sunday's game against UT-Martin. I hope we build on this performance, and I hope our depth can play a bigger role on Sunday.

After practice on Saturday morning, I learned that my grandfather passed away. I had just gone to see him before pre-season started, because my family did not expect him to make it through the month. Ernie was 87 years old and a World War II Veteran. I was still on campus when I talked to my mom. The 8 or 9 players who took ice baths were the first people I talked to when I got off the phone. My players are good to me!

Ironically, after practice, I had 2 text messages. One was from my sister and it said, "Call mom." The other was from the assistant coach at Vanderbilt, and it said, "Ronnie is in labor." My good friend Ronnie Woodard, the head coach at Vanderbilt, gave birth to her son, Thomas, Saturday afternoon. C'est la vie.

Movies: The Replacements and Pocahontas

Friday, August 21, 2009

Preseason- August 11-21, 2009

One week after all the Division I teams had begun, I welcomed 27 players to Belmont for the 2009 season. This is the largest roster I have ever had. 11 new players. I made a welcome back slideshow for the team. Seeing pictures from winning the 2008 conference tournament with them again was special, and it somehow seemed so long ago. This feels like a brand new team with greater potential and greater goals. I have not seen anything that makes me think this team is going become complacent.

After the fitness test and 4 days of training, it was time to spend time getting to know each other. We took the True Colors Personality Test. It was a group discussion on different personalities, the strengths and weaknesses (characteristics) of each personality, and how others perceive certain personalities. We had a lot of fun with it. We call each other gold, orange, green, and blue. I am green, and it's not easy being green. We stereotype each other according to the color of their personality. It has been a good tool for learning about each other and about oneself, and it has been truly memorable. Just like camping last year was memorable.

We also went canoeing. I matched up the partners in each boat by position, and put people together who would have to work together and communicate on the field. Is it a bad sign that the only 2 canoes that tipped were those of the center backs and the coaches? This was no leisurely canoe trip. There were about 12 canoes racing down the river. It was crazy. Even when we would try to relax, we would all just end up maneuvering for position.

Thank you to all the people, schools, and organizations that allowed us to use their fields while ours was closed. Father Ryan, MBA, Nashville Metro, and Vanderbilt. Thank you to the families who provided food for us while the cafeteria was closed. Trocino, Loftis, Sanchez, and Musacchio.

When we played Southern Indiana on Sunday, it was our first game and their 3rd game. There were times in the game when I thought that was evident. I was happy with our progress on defending higher up the field and very happy with the number of scoring opportunities we created. There were definitely some nerves and some unfamiliarity with each other, but we won 1-0.

Today was the first day of classes. We are preparing for our first regular season game against UAB, who is 2-0. They have wins over Alabama and Ole Miss. They usually get large vocal crowds, and I expect we will be playing in a rowdy, unfriendly environment. Actually, it should be fun. Maybe in my pre-game speech, I will talk about my 1999 team that tied Georgia in front of 3000 Bulldog fans.

I am excited about this team and look forward to the season ahead. Communicating with, motivating, and keeping the focus of 27 college students is going to be a big challenge for me. So far, the team is doing great and showing no signs of disinterest. (That would be just like an orange.)

We will be at UAB this Friday night and home on Sunday against UT-Martin. I hope to see you there.

We play at Vanderbilt tonight. The crowd was over 1000 at last year's game. Hopefully, we can add to that tonight. Hopefully, we will continue to improve our defensive presence in the midfield, moving the ball from the midfield third to the attacking third, possession in the final third, and consistency. Come see for yourself!

We had a team meeting back at the hotel, and I was exhausted. You would think I would have a hard time falling asleep the night before a championship game, but I couldn't keep my eyes open. I was up in the middle of the night going over a list of penalty kickers, so I never fully catch up on my sleep.