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Diary Entry No. 7

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After a disappointing game on Friday it was good to see some of the guys out on the field this weekend. Our apartment looks out onto the game field and I saw around 10 of our guys out on the field at different times. There's no quit in this team.

This particular Monday seemed like it lasted forever. Classes would not end. We got out to practice this afternoon and it was actually warm again. After a couple of days with highs around 70 degrees, today was around 83 degrees. We warmed up and then went straight into some 6 v. 6 games. The first game had two teams playing on a small field. Each team received a cross from each corner, and then the two would transition and do the same thing on the other end, reversing roles. This kept up until a team scored twice. It was working on transition, putting players in the right position on crosses offensively and defensively and working to win the first ball. We then moved one of the goals back and played a normal game, but with guys on the outside. The guys on the outside could join in and leave the defense shorthanded. Another thing we needed to work on after Friday's game. We ended with some conditioning and a stretch.

I've been here four years and I guess my luck finally ran out. I had to take a drug test this morning at 7:30 a.m. I was half-awake and managed to forget my ID. I hadn't thought that people might try to send someone else to take their test for them if the testers didn't require an ID. I guess I hadn't begun to think at all that early in the morning. Anyway, after a trip home, I got back to the training room and did the deed. The guy gave me some disinfectant afterward "in case I had peed on my hands". I couldn't stop laughing.

I was a little tired today. Besides the fact that I had to get up early for the test, the stupid Red Sox and Yankees have been keeping me up. I'm not one that can sit down and watch a regular season baseball game from beginning to end when they still have 75 games left in their season. I can sit down and watch the playoffs, especially the later innings of these close games. The other series is fun because my roommate wants the Cardinals to win and they went up 2-0, and his girlfriend is from south Texas and an Astros fan, which has won the last three.

At practice today we started off with some 1 v. 1 exercise and moved into 2 v. 2. Then we did a drill where we practice running up and winning a ball over someone's back. Our next drill was one for the defense. The three backs were matched up with three forwards. One defensive midfielder was matched up with two offensive midfielders. The offense also had guys on the outside that would whip crosses in. The purpose was to increase the communication in the back, watch our positioning and deal with man-down situations. We ended with a couple of periods of 8 v. 8. The blue team got the ball anytime it went out of bounds no matter who kicked it out and their sole purpose was to score. The yellow team could still score, but their main goal was to keep a shutout. The two games moved at a fast pace and the coaches were happy with the play and the communication. Now, more homework to do and baseball to distract.

In one of my classes today the professor was trying to make a point and asked if anyone had worked one of the assigned problems. No one said anything or made a movement. I did the normal look down and stare at the desk trick. He decided that we were the laziest, most honest class, he had ever had. I think he likes us in a weird way.

Practice today was pretty intense, much like the other practices this week. The warm-up got us moving right away. We were in groups of three and the player with the ball would play it into one of the other two players. They would play the ball into the space for him and run into the box where he would cross it into them. We worked on our crossing and our finishing off of crosses. Then we moved into a drill working on defending crosses. Defenders would start out marking the attackers about 35 yards out. The attackers had to receive a ball, combine with each other, then play the ball out wide. From there it was a race to the box and see who could win the cross. We changed the drill about midway through and simply condensed it. It was pretty much the same drill only we started right outside the 18-yard line. Everything was at a quicker pace and the offense had other players that could join in. We ended with an 8 v. 8 scrimmage. At first, the ball always started with the goalkeepers, who were to punt it into play allowing us to work on winning first and second balls. Eventually we ended with a normal game.

How about those BoSox?! The first team to ever go down 3-0 in a series and come back to win it, and they did it against the Yankees, in New York. That's pretty impressive if you ask me. And Johnny Damon couldn't hit a beach ball early on in the series, and he came back and hit two homers for six RBI. Just shows that team sports really do rely on every member of the team. If one guy is struggling, someone else picks up the slack. You feed off each other, and that's the only way you reach your goal- together.

Practice today was another good practice, and more active than usual for the day before a game. We warmed up and went straight into a 10 v. 9 scrimmage. The coaches stopped it a couple of times to talk, but we played on and off for about 20 minutes. One group was going to goal while the other group had a target forward that they were supposed to play it up to and get it off of. Once the coaches were satisfied, we moved into a bit of shooting practice. Coach Clarke loves to add his own side comments after each player shoots. It can be pretty funny.

At the end of practice they informed us that the NCAA is attempting to eliminate our spring season. We would no longer be able to play any games in the spring and all our practice would be reduced to weights and speed work. This is really frustrating because I'm on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and I know the representatives for Division I-A football are proposing a 5th year of eligibility for all Division I football players. I doubt that would get passed, but I don't know why they would want to take away half of our year.

The clouds decided to dump some more rain on us a couple of hours before the game. It continued on and off throughout the rest of the night. We came out in the first half and for the most part we executed our game plan just how we had wanted to. We had taken care of their key players and put in a couple of goals as well. We had a little trouble with their outside midfielders breaking out, but some communication helped keep those situations in check.

There was no reason we couldn't have come out and done the same thing in the second half and won 4-0. We knew Southwest Missouri State was a team that wouldn't give in because they've always been a group to work until the end and never stop fighting. Well we came out and let our guard down big time. It was strange as how it seemed the whole attitude had changed. We didn't have the same drive on offense or defense. We let them determine the pace of the game and eventually the final outcome. We lost 3-2, giving up the last goal with around 10 minutes left to play. That's something our team should never let happen, and the fact that we were at home made it that much worse.

We woke up and had a practice at 11:00 a.m. this morning. We didn't use the balls this time around. We jogged and stretched. Then the coaches put us through some more runs to really get our legs going and our blood pumping. We ended with another stretch and a talk.

This was our last weekend at home, which meant it was senior weekend. This was the fifth or sixth year that we've had a banquet Saturday night for the seniors. The parents come, the coach talks a little bit, the seniors get a plaque with their picture and the years they played, and each senior gets roasted by one of his teammates. Joe (Wear) roasted Terry (Boss). Justin Roman came back and roasted Scott (Kincaid), and Jamie (Dabney) roasted me. I was pretty nervous going in, especially with Jamie's mom and girlfriend telling me to remember how much I liked him before the banquet. It ended up being pretty fun and I laughed nonstop through all the roasts.

I almost forgot! My parents were at the game on Friday, but drove home that night because of my dog. She had been sick to her stomach and had a pretty bad case of diarrhea. I had never heard of a dog having this condition, but she definitely did. My parents had brought up a lot of my winter clothes and they were in the back, with the dog. So they ended up driving home late Friday night and driving back Saturday just in time for the banquet. They left the clothes at home because they were a bit soiled and less than fresh.

The weekend ended much better than it began. It was "Senior Day" so Terry, Scott, and I were introduced at the end and we got to walk out with our parents. It was fun to have them there and share the weekend with them. I think we scored as soon as the ceremony was over. Evansville has had a rough season, and us scoring in the first 30 seconds of the game was the perfect thing for us. We went on to score three more in the first half. We scored again in the first minute of the second half and the final score came out to be 8-0. A lot of guys contributed with goals and assists in this one. Ryan had one goal and five assists by himself. Scott got a goal, which was a nice on senior day, and Terry got a shutout in only the second game he had gotten to play this season because of injury. It was a pretty happy day and there wasn't much to complain about concerning our play.

We finish Missouri Valley Conference play off with Eastern Illinois and Bradley. Eastern has had their struggles this season, but they just beat Vanderbilt who proved to be no slouch when they came down to our place. Bradley is currently in third in the conference behind SMU and Creighton. We are in a three-way tie for fourth at 3-3-1 with SMS and Drake. We can finish anywhere from about third to eighth in conference, depending on this weekend. It would be nice to win out and have other games work our way to be able to host a first-round conference tournament game. We can only control what we do. These are the last conference games of my career. It feels pretty weird. We're ready to end the regular season on a high note.