Happy Labor Day! The last time we lost 2 games in the same weekend was October of 2007. Even though the results were the same, the losses could not have been more different. We were never really in the game against Vanderbilt. Early goals, a lack of physical presence, and a loss of confidence did not allow us to make it a competitive game. On Sunday, we did a better job of setting the tone, getting in a rhythm, and controlling the tempo of the game. A lack of scoring and a lapse in the defensive third was the only thing that kept us from winning.
I had to explain to the team, because I don't think they understand the transition that we are going through, currently. There is going to be a learning curve, and there are going to be some growing pains, but we will be a better team later in the season and forever in the future.
Since taking over the Belmont team in 2005, my philosophy has been result oriented. We were desperate to win games in order to build our confidence and our team cohesion. I sacrificed the quality of soccer we were playing in order to get wins. We doubled our average wins per season, and we won the A-Sun Tournament. Going into this 2009 season, we are confident, we have good team chemistry, and we have more talent. It is time to concentrate on playing better soccer. It is the natural next step in the evolution of this program.
In the early stages of this process, we could possibly lose some games that maybe we could have or would have won a year or two ago. We are going to make mistakes. There will be a lack of consistency. We are still identifying the best players to play in the best positions. We are doing all of this against top competition. The 3 teams to whom we have lost have a combined record of 15-1-1.
Just to give you an idea of how different our team tactics are, take a look at the statistics. Last year, we gave up over 40 shots to Vanderbilt. Sari had to make 17 saves. This year, we allowed 20 shots, and Sari made 7 saves. Last year, MTSU dominated us in shots, 19-11 and corner kicks, 5-1. Yesterday, we outshot MTSU by at least 10 shots, and we had 6 corner kicks to their zero.
I am not going to play the stats comparison all year. I just want to illustrate that our team is improving. There is going to be a time in the season when we need to win, and hopefully we will be prepared to do that. This week at practice, we will work on finishing and set plays. That should help us. I am looking forward to our next 4 games being at home. Our official visit weekend is next weekend.
It was great to have so many families in town over Labor Day weekend. We appreciate the support and hope to see everyone again soon.