Monday, October 19, 2009

A Win, A Tie and a Loss

We still control our own destiny. Those are words that every coach wants to be able to say this time of year, especially when your destiny could be first place. Ideally, we would have liked to have won both games last weekend against Florida Gulf Coast. Instead, we were able to accomplish 2 things that we have not done in my era at Belmont – beat Florida Gulf Coast and not lose to Stetson at home. The best news of Sunday probably came when we found out that ETSU beat Kennesaw State.

KSU is in 1st place with 18 points and one game left. We are in 2nd place with 17 points and 2 games left. Jacksonville is in 3rd place with 15 points and 2 games left. We have a difficult road trip to Jacksonville, FL to play Jacksonville and North Florida. When we play JU on Friday night, both teams will be fighting to give themselves the opportunity to win the regular season championship on Sunday. If UNF beats Lipscomb on Friday night, they will be fighting to win the final playoff spot when they play us on Sunday.

The stakes are high. I am excited, and so is the team. I plan for the team to be properly prepared and make sure the players properly channel their excitement. The weather forecast is good for the early part of the week, so we should be able to get 2 good practices in before we leave on Thursday.

The weather was not good last week for our preparation. We only practiced on our field on Tuesday (in the rain) to get ready for Florida Gulf Coast and Stetson. The field was saturated for Friday’s games. The men’s soccer team played after our game on Friday. The field was in bad shape for Sunday’s games. The ball would stick in the mud and slow down our players.

Sunday was Senior Day. I stayed with the tradition that I started last year. In the locker room, before the game, I read a letter that I wrote to the seniors. Before the game, the seniors walked out on the field with their parents to be recognized. The team made them scrapbooks. I was impressed with the effort and creativity of the players. Thank goodness for fall break. As usual, each senior had a sheet hanging on the fence.

All the seniors started, and I was happy with their effort and their performances.

We were on fall break last week, so the cafeteria was closed. Lydia Wright’s parents had the team over to their house for dinner on Thursday night, so the girls would eat right to be ready for Friday’s game. I am so grateful to all the parents who take such good care of these student-athletes. In Georgia, we got to break up the monotony of eating in restaurants by eating lunch at Laura Harris’ house before the Mercer game and eating dinner at Alex Mindel’s house the night before the Kennesaw State game.

I watched the Jacksonville vs. North Florida game tonight on JU scored in the first minute of the game and held on to win 1-0. I got a good look at both teams. Now I’m nervous. I am so happy to have our team in this situation. I told our team on our bonding trip that if we were going to win a championship, we were going to have to do it on the road. Here we are, 10 weeks later, ready to jump on that bus!

Sari Lin got defensive player of the week for her 155 shutout minutes last weekend. She made some crucial saves against Florida Gulf Coast. Sari had great help from her defenders as well. Sari has only allowed 5 goals in conference play. Four of those goals were to the same team – Kennesaw State. Two of the 5 goals were penalty kicks – one for KSU and one for Campbell. Those are the statistics it takes to win a championship.

See you when we get back from Florida.

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