Monday, October 18, 2010

Jacksonville/North Florida weekend

Our last 3 games have been against the top 3 teams in the conference - Florida Gulf Coast, Jacksonville, and North Florida. I think Jacksonville is the best team in the A-Sun. I think FGCU has the best possession of any team. I think UNF is the most improved team in the A-Sun. We came close to scoring a goal against FGCU. We came close to scoring 4 goals against Jacksonville. Their goalkeeper made 2 excellent saves. We were 2 minutes and/or 2 inches away from tying North Florida.

Our 7 verbally committed incoming 2011 freshmen and their parents were at the North Florida game. I am excited about this talented class. One played in USYS National Championship Tournament last summer. Three of them play in the Elite Clubs National League. Two more will join the league this year. These players have great experience with their reputable club teams - Mockingbird, Brentwood, Concorde, Carmel, D'Feeters, and Sting.

We played fine against Jacksonville, but we played better in the 2nd half. Against North Florida, we played poorly in the 2nd half. I have no idea what I am going to get when I put the players on the field. It has made it very difficult for me to choose a consistent line up, have a consistent substitution pattern, and even have a consistent preparation for each game.

We have a practice on Saturday mornings between games. It is usually for sweating, stretching, and preparing for Sunday's opponent. I am always cautious not to do too much on Saturday mornings, until that Saturday. We played gaelic football. I learned the game from Becky Burleigh and have not played it in a long time. It is a cross between rugby and soccer. The coaches played. We ran. We tackled. There were scrums. It was vicious.

I decided to play gaelic football, because I think the team is playing out of fear - playing not to lose, playing scared to lose. I wanted to take the fear out of them and show them that we could battle that we MUST battle. We had a substitute trainer that day, and he must have thought I was out of my mind. He was probably thinking, "No wonder the women's soccer team has so many injuries."

I'm not sure which game was more dirty - gaelic football or North Florida. Anyway, we were off to a good start against UNF. At halftime, you would have thought I told the team to stop passing the ball and start kicking it as far as they could. We started playing so direct, and we never had possession of the ball. We defended most of the half, and it was hard to get the momentum back after that. The game went into overtime, and we were 2 minutes away from a tie. The ball was partially cleared from our area to a UNF midfielder. She took a shot from 25 yards out and it hit the bottom of the crossbar and bounced down and in the goal. We have given up almost the exact same goal in the games against FGCU and Stetson. The Stetson goal hit the underside of the crossbar also. Unbelievable!!!

It's hard to believe we still control our own destiny. It will help us for ETSU and Campbell to lose, but if we win our last 3 games, we will make the A-Sun Tournament.

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