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Week #6

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After practice we all met up at Olive Garden around 7:00 p.m. That was only an approximate time because the flooding streets forced some of the guys to take unplanned detours. The amount of rain that fell in a span of four hours was ridiculous. Eventually we had nearly the entire team show up. It was pretty nice to get everyone together in a setting away from soccer. You get to talk to some guys that you don't always talk to everyday and you can talk about stuff other than who we're playing next. At the same time, it was a good way to shift everyone's attention from the disappointing road trip the previous weekend to the games that faced us in the next couple of days.

A little history is needed before we get into this weekend. Last year the Creighton/Drake was arguably one of our most successful weekends. Drake came in on a high and we destroyed them and then we gave Creighton its only loss in conference. This year that weekend was obviously not as fruitful. On the same note, the Western Kentucky/Vanderbilt weekend was a disaster last year. We lost to Western and tied Vanderbilt. One point out of what should have been six. That weekend is the one reason we did not win the MVC regular season championship. Also, as long as I've been here, we've never beaten Western Kentucky. This is a fact that has always been very confusing, but we've been unable to solve it.

We were playing a doubleheader with the women's team today and this time we had the early game. It was a bit strange to be playing at 5:00 p.m. on a Friday night. Luckily for us this was the only day this week that the temperature hadn't been perfect. It was a warm one early on but we forgot about that pretty quick as we gave up a goal in the first three minutes of the game. Half the fans were still walking into the stadium and we were down 1-0. That's never the way you want to start a game, especially against a team like Western Kentucky. We managed to tie the game up before halftime when Ryan (Pore) struck a shot that deflected off of a defender and into the net. The second half was really a display as Ryan put in two more and Daniel (Wasson) finished off the scoring with one of his own. I think Ryan ended up taking as many shots as the entire WKU team combined. We didn't give them too many looks at the goal and we didn't let their free kicks and throw-ins take us out of our game like we had in the past. It was nice to finally beat them and it was a good start to the weekend.

I went home and got a shower and came back for the women's game. They were down 1-0 in the first half before I got there. They came out after halftime looking better and pressing more toward the goal, but couldn't get one in and fell, 1-0. Both of Alexis's (Arment) parents were in town and so were both of mine. This was pretty much the one thing that hadn't happened yet. We all went out to grab some pizza after the game. I was sitting in the corner and kept looking at my parents and then her parents to make sure everything was going smoothly. Then I'd turn to her for reassurance that all was going well. I think the night went down just fine.

We all woke up and went out to the field at 10:00 a.m. this morning. We had a nice warm-up to work out some of the stiffness and played keep away for 10 minutes or so. We really just wanted to get everyone's blood pumping and make sure they didn't sleep all day. By the time I got in from practice and took a shower it was time for the Texas/OU game. It was a better than last year's drubbing with both sides playing some great defense. OU's freshman running back showed that he is a freak of nature and with Texas failing to score the result wasn't in question deep into the second half. The rest of the day was pretty relaxed. I bought some groceries with the parents and had dinner at some point. And yes, it continued to rain.

It rained pretty much all morning before out game vs. Vanderbilt. They had lost to SMU, 2-1, on Friday. The weather seemed to give us a perfect two-hour break in which we could play our game. It was still very wet, but no other precipitation fell until after the game was over. We got off to a great start as Ryan scored less than a minute into the game. However we failed to gain control of the game after that and let them come at us for spells during the first half. They managed to score on two corner kicks about 10 minutes apart. VU would crowd our six-yard box and pounce when the numbers seemed to create some chaos. The first goal was at least a decent header, but a guy who had fallen down scored the second goal and the ball happened to fall straight to his foot. We went into halftime down 2-1. To kick off homecoming they had a parade of all the athletes around the track. We're not sure what all was going on because we were in the locker room, but it was nice for them to include our game in the festivities.

Once again we seemed to take control in the second half. We kept the ball more and determined the tempo. We ended up winning 4-2 with another goal from Ryan, one from Lawson (Vaughn), and one from Daniel. When the game got a little heated our team was able to stay composed and keep plugging away. Eventually, Vanderbilt saw one of their players red carded as we exposed their defense more and more. We put together a couple of solid performances and some of the guys worked well together in the two games. Obviously there were some good individual efforts, but those were aided by some great teamwork too. It was definitely a good way to come back with after our previous weekend.

The legs definitely needed the day off today. Everyone had taken some knocks over the weekend and it's always nice to rest before getting back to it on Monday. I had to finish a test in finance today. This professor keeps making his tests too long, so he gives us the last part the next class period. It's really annoying because he may give you an idea of what it will be over, but it's hard to determine what topic he may choose out of a few chapters to make the last two questions on the test.

Later on that night I got to go on a date. With both of us in season, we hadn't done anything since we had been back to school. We went to a restaurant called Monte's on Peoria Avenue. It was really nice, probably a little nicer than either one of us had expected. They seated us and the waiter came and put our napkins in our laps and handed us menus. It was all the little things that we weren't used to. We were both paranoid that we stood out and could have sworn that he was laughing at us the first 20 minutes we sat there. We ended up having a really good time though. It was nice to be able to put school on the back burner for a couple of hours. The waiter even opened up to us once he figured out that we really didn't care how proper he was.

Practice today saw a pretty good work ethic. The coaches told us before hand that we should put it in our minds that today's practice would be more difficult than Friday's game. We weren't playing anything for too long, but we did everything at pace. After warm-up we went into 6 v. 6 keep away with one team sitting off each game. The game was pretty lively and saw some good ball movement. After that, we played short hard games of 8 v. 8 to goal. At the end we ran some sprints from end-line to end-line.

On a couple of side notes: Terry (Boss) got his cast off today and he was smiling from ear to ear. Also, Scott (Kincaid) warmed up with us at the beginning of practice and seems to be moving okay while recovering from that injury. For his performance over the weekend, Ryan was named to the CollegeSoccerNews Team of the Week and he was the MVC Offensive Player of the Week.

We had the late practice tonight and the temperature actually dropped quite a bit. We noticed it more because the practice consisted of a lot of standing around and listening and positioning. It was more of a tactical practice but you need those sometimes to get everyone on the same page. At the end we played a quick full field scrimmage. It was quick because we had already been out there a while and our legs were frozen and wouldn't have put up with anything much longer.

The day started off with both classes. I got back a philosophy test and realized that my level of understanding what the professor was looking for was lacking. Perhaps I'm not deep enough. We had practice at 2:00 p.m. this afternoon. We went over the tactics quickly to refresh everyone's memories. Then we played a quick game and ended up with a game of baseball. Once again one team completely dominated the other. I think it was 13-2 after the first inning. You can't come back from that. After practice we had time to shower and pack.

Our bus for Dallas left around 4:15 p.m. Our driver was a piece of work. We watched a tape of the U.S. men's national team game against Panama. They won 6-0. It was strange to see Eddie Johnson score three goals. I played against him when he played for the U-17 national team and then again a couple of times when he played for the Dallas Burn. It's fun to see him enjoying some success on that level. We drove straight to an Olive Garden in Dallas. Dom(inic) (Cervi) was meant for the never-ending pasta bowl. Everyone is actually sitting around waiting for Dom to finish his fourth bowl. I think he was satisfied. Everyone was pretty tired and hit the sack pretty early once we checked into our hotel.

The team got the chance to sleep in a bit and only had to be up in time for a 10:00 a.m. practice. We went out to the field and did some quick drills to loosen up and then went over some set plays and the like. We came back and they had kept the breakfast buffet open and moved it just for us. Can't complain about that. We had some free time after that where guys did everything from homework, to sleeping, to going over the Virgin Record Store to play video games. Lunch was at Jason's Deli at 2:30 p.m. After that it was time to focus on the game.

The parents had a tailgate before the game. We walked past it on the way to the field and it looked like they were having a good ole time. They had a really good turn out too. They always do so much to make sure we have support so it's nice to see them having some fun together before the game.

The game wasn't what we were looking for. The first 15 minutes went pretty well. We played the way we wanted to and SMU looked flustered. Their right back made a long run, was fouled and drew a free kick about 20 minutes in. They put the free kick in and everything seemed to change after that. Suddenly it seemed like SMU was more relaxed and our team stopped playing the way it had in the beginning. We still played okay, but we conceded two more goals that we didn't make them work very hard to earn. The third one came with less than a minute to play and seemed to be a nail in the coffin.

We came out in the second half and seemed to be showing some resolve, but we again let in a weak goal, SMU's fourth of the game. Our team didn't give up and we hit the crossbar a couple of times, but it wasn't a great performance. Our defense let in some weak goals and our offense didn't really get to operate as usual under the pressure of being behind the whole game. The stats afterward showed we out-shot them 17-9. I doubt all nine of those were on goal, so the percentage of shots we let in was not pretty.

Playing at home is always fun, but we haven't had great results since I've been here. My sophomore year we lost at SMU 5-1 and this year we lost 4-0. It was still nice to see the parents, Craig, Myers and Karen, and all the friends you don't get to see too often. I just wish we could have give them a better game and been in more of a talking mood afterward. SMU is still undefeated in conference and we have four more games to see what we can make of the season. The next couple of weeks will tell a lot.