It's been too long since I've written you all. I always (plan to) sit down each Monday and email a recap of the week...then life gets in the way!! Perhaps this time it's a good thing, though. I think if I had recapped the past weeks separately I would have missed seeing who this team is really becoming and what we were (perhaps) missing early in the season. And by that I mean...
...Lynchburg (L 0-1)
As you may have heard, this was a pretty crazy game. Each team had a player and an assistant coach sent off in the second half. Both teams had plenty of chances to score - LC's keeper actually took 3 goals away from us on great saves (in my opinion). Although I felt we actually played well and the game was a good one (at least entertaining to watch) I feel like we were missing some"thing"...
...Greensboro (T 2-2)
This was a strange game to play in my opinion. The timing of the game was not good as it was played in the middle of the ODAC schedule, which makes it tough since it doesn't "count" for anything. However, it is an in-city rivalry and many of the players know each other quite well. Greensboro has a new coach and he has transformed them into an entirely different team than they have been the past couple of seasons. We gave up a rebound/bobbled goal early in the game, but responded by possessing well around them and having a number of good chances to level the game.
At half time we talked about how we played well and that I wasn't concerned about their play/abilities. We spoke about what it takes to accomplish your goals. We spoke about finding that "thing" that makes separated good teams from great ones.
We went down 2-0 with about 25 minutes to play and, at that point, we began to fight back. In the past perhaps we put our head's down and let the time tick off the clock. However, a couple of subs came on and gave us the energy necessary to level the game at 2-2 by the time regulation time had expired. In OT I feel we should have won it with a couple of great chances on goal. Although we were dangerous and "could have won", we came closer to finding out who were needed to become. I at this point I think the team began feeling some"thing" different than they have in the past...
...Randolph-Macon (W 3-1)
(We actually scored all four goals in this game!) This was the first game that I felt a team was able to out-possess us for longer periods of time in a game. What I was impressed with from the players was that they didn't get nervous, upset, etc about it. They stayed in good team shape and good spirits about how we were playing. (Maturity?) With that being said, we made a couple of changes in the first half to give us more pace out wide so we could try to get in behind their OB's and push their backs/team further into their end. We did the same thing to start the second half and it worked well. 20 minutes into the second half we entered our starting four forwards/middies and they made the game 3-0 very quickly after entering. With 10 minutes left 6-7 players who have worked very hard throughout the year but haven't played much in games got their chance to close out the game. Unfortunately R-M was able to keep the ball deep in our end for the first few minutes that they were in and we gave up an own-goal to make the score 3-1. Nervous? I was a bit, but the players gathered themselves nicely and close the game out with grit and determination...some"thing" we've been searching for..?
...VWC (W 2-0)
That "thing" we've been talking about and searching for came through in full effect on this night. The field was soggy, sponge-like grass, which is not something we're used to and it certainly affected the way we usually like to play. VWC is a talented team going forward and we were strong enough and mature enough to absorb their attack but not allow (m)any easy chances on goal. We finally found a goal from a corner kick - the first one I can remember in quite a while. We also scored a great goal with 1 second remaining in the half that deflated VWC's thoughts of getting back in the game. Although they came out hard at us in the second half, the entire team dug deep down and played with true heart and determination...that "thing" we've been needing. It wasn't our best game of the season, but it may prove to be our most important (up to this point).
I asked the team before the R-M game to think about why they are playing. What drives them to be on the field? What makes them practice everyday and strive to compete? Although they all love to play and compete, I wanted them to find out what actually made them want to win, to be better, to not allow the other team to beat us...that feeling inside every champion...every person who really wants to accomplish something special. I think we found that at VWC. Now I hope they can find it again tomorrow versus EMU...and every game from here on out.