Tuesday, September 29, 2009

North Carolina

We played on two very nice soccer fields last weekend at High Point and Campbell. We had not trained on a dry field or as a team since Tuesday, Sept. 15th. We did not know exactly what to expect in our game against High Point on Thursday, Sept. 24th. During the majority of the first half, we looked like we had taken a lot of time off. We made a lot of bad decisions, and we were a step slow for a team who is trying to high pressure. There was a lot of hesitation, and that led to my frustration.

The second half was better for us, and we were quicker to get in good positions. Another big factor was the play of Patience Whitten. I put her in at center midfield in the beginning of the 2nd half, and she made a big difference for us. Jessica Rix was an impact on the game. All the forwards were better. Morgan and Gretchen changed the way we were playing the outside backs. In a 5 minute span, between the 70th and 75th minutes, we scored 3 goals. The goals and the build up leading to the goals were all quality.

I hope we can continue scoring goals in bunches. Last year, if we scored 3 goals in a game, we usually spread them out over the course of the game and overtime (Lipscomb & Jacksonville).

It rained most of the day of the Campbell game and rained hard immediately before the game. Although the field was soft and a little slippery in some places, the field had very little effect on the way the game was played. We were still able to pass the ball on the ground. Driven balls would skip fast along the wet grass, and that was a challenge for Sari, but she did well with it. Campbell has some excellent outside shooters.

Campbell outshot us and outplayed us in the first half, but the 2nd half was all Belmont. It was a great combination of intensity and composure. Other than giving up the penalty kick within 3 minutes of our first goal, I thought we had one of our best halves of soccer. I was proud of all of our players. I was happy for Bublis to get the game winning goal in overtime. I was impressed with the execution of the set piece that led to the winning goal.

After that trip, you would say we are a 2nd half team, but we have had good 1st halves - UAB, Samford. We lack some consistency, but we are getting there.

It is hard to believe I have another first to tell you about. I don't think I have ever been sick on an entire road trip like I was on this one. This was a longer road trip than usual. Because the 2nd game of the trip was played at night, we stayed one extra night in the hotel and drove back the day after the game. We usually leave immediately following a game. It is 9 ½ hours from Campbell to Belmont, and I did not want our team or the bus driver spending 10pm-6am on the bus. I thought that would set back our recovery for our game on Tuesday against Lipscomb.

I started feeling sick after a Sunday practice in the rain. The day before we left, I did not go into work, and I missed our practice. (That's a first.) We actually didn't train on the field. We did a strength circuit workout and intervals on the track. I didn't miss much. Not only was I trying to get well for the trip, I was avoiding our players. I didn't want to get them sick. In North Carolina, when I wasn't on the soccer field, I was in my room in bed. As much as possible I tried to avoid going into players' rooms, meetings in my room, sitting with them at meals. I didn't even go to all the meals. Now you know how sick I was.

Maybe I have been that sick during season, but I was in my 20's, so it didn't slow me down as much.

It was hard work to get our first win in conference. I can't imagine how hard it will be to get a result at Mercer and/or Kennesaw State in a couple of weeks. Luckily, we have time to improve and prepare.

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