Sept. 20, 2012
I've got a lot to talk about this week so see if you can hang in there with me.
Baylor. It was a physical challenge. Baylor is as disruptive and direct as any team in the country. They kick the ball forward at every chance they get. They'll kick you if you're in their way. While we matched them physically it was hard to play the possession game we like. After we went down a goal, we made the decision to pass the ball no matter how scary it might be. From that point on we were good. We got even just before the end of regulation. Overtime looked like it was going to end in a tie but we couldn't possess the ball late in the game and gave up the winner with about 2 minutes left. It was an absolutely gut wrenching and disappointing loss. We deserved at worst a tie. I was upset at myself more than anyone else for not trusting in our player's ability to keep the ball. I was concerned about Baylor's pressure and a wet field that was not in great shape. In the end I probably chose the wrong tactics for a good portion of the match.
We had a short training session on Saturday and a quick look at film. I then talked for a good amount of time about the importance of trust and the lesson I learned the night before. I took them through some scenarios where trust was important in the success of past teams. I explained how they needed to trust themselves, each other and the coaches. I also talked about the same process for the coaches, as we needed to trust each other, the players and ourselves. I asked them to take some risk by putting their trust in others in hope of a great return on their investment. The return would be wins and championships. I could tell by the nods of their heads that they were following along and felt pretty good about our chances for Sunday.
Oklahoma was the exact opposite of Baylor. They tried to pass the ball. They weren't physically combative. They just played. It was a good matchup for us. We played extremely well and put together 3 very good goals. I was more excited about the shutout. Our back four has been a work in progress from day 1. It was nice to see them get a clean sheet on the night.
We start conference play this week. I'm pretty unfamiliar with the teams in the league so I've got some work to do to learn what they're all about. It helps that the first 2 are Houston and Rice and I have seen them. I've never heard of a league that has teams play 7 away games and 4 home games in a season but apparently we drew the short straw. It's something we can deal with but it is a unique challenge. My bigger concern with this is the amount of missed class for our students. They are going to have to be very disciplined to get their work done on the road.
On the soccer end we should be good to go. We've played an extremely difficult nonconference schedule and have come out of it a better team. We've experienced all kinds of different styles of play and challenges that have us well prepared for the league. We will compete in each and every league contest. We will have a chance to win every one we play. I have no idea what our final record will be but I know we'll play hard and we'll play well. Finally, I'm confident that there will be a high level of trust between everyone involved in the program. With that investment in trust we give ourselves a chance to win a Championship.